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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Gourmet News

FOOD FUN: PieCaken & Its Recipe

Piecaken recipe from Zac Young @ Fabrick.

Piecaken from Zac Young @ Fabrick

Zac Young’s Thanksgiving PieCaken. Photos
courtesy The David Burke Group.


Fans of the Lifetime series, Drop Dead Diva, will remember when April invented the Pake—pie plus cake—and opened her Pakery.

Executive Pastry Chef Zac Young of the David Burke Group now makes the PieCaken for Thanksgiving, the dessert version of turducken. The three-layer confection consists of a layer of pecan pie, pumpkin pie and apple upside down cake, along with cinnamon buttercream.

It’s sold at Burke’s New York City restaurant, Fabrick for $49—and following an appearance on “Live With Kelly And Michael,” it’s pretty much sold out.

You can try your hand at it with his recipe, below.

A bit of PieCaken history:

According to an article on, Charles Phoenix, whose Wikepedia bio calls “an author and chef whose work explores and celebrates 1950s and 1960s kitsch and Americana,” credits himself with creating the combo cake in 2007. He called it the Cherpumple or “The Monster” Pie-Cake: a three-layer cake stuffed with cherry, apple and pumpkin pies.

The inspiration was the number of dessert plates used for Thanksgiving dinner, to accommodate his family’s traditional four desserts: three pies—cherry, pumpkin and apple—and a spice cake.

Phoenix doesn’t claim to be the first person to bake a pie in a cake, but more the first person to have gone Internet-viral with it.

And viral it is. Just do a search for PieCaken and you’ll turn up recipes galore.


Ingredients For 8-12 Servings

  • 1 (9 inch) pumpkin pie (store bought or your favorite recipe—Zac uses the one from the back of the Libby’s can
  • 1 (9 inch) pecan pie (store bought or your favorite recipe)
    For the Apple Upside-Down Cake

  • 1 large Granny Smith apple
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    *Buttermilk substitute: For 1/2 cup buttermilk, substitute 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1/2 cup.
    For the Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

  • 4 large egg whites (totally clean, no bits of yolk)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • Whipped cream or ice cream for serving


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Spray an 8” cake pan with nonstick spray and line with a round of parchment paper.

    2. MAKE the apple topping: Peel, core and cut the apple into quarters. Slice each quarter into very thin (1/16”) slices. Melt the butter in the microwave. In a bowl, toss the butter, brown sugar and apples together. Spread the apple mixture into a thin layer in the bottom of the prepared cake pan and bake for 10 minutes. The sugar and butter should be melted and the apples should start to soften. There may be a little liquid that has seeped out of the apples, which is fine. Let the pan cool while you make the cake.

    3. MAKE the spice cake: Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium bowl and whisk until blended together. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the oil and sugar together. It’s actually easier to do this with a whisk than with an electric mixer; but if you really like the mixer, use it. Add both of the eggs and whisk until smooth. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and whisk until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in two installments, whisking until blended.

    4. CAREFULLY POUR the batter over the apple layer. If you simply dump it on top, you run the risk of displacing the apples and ruining the pretty apple design, but it will still taste good.

    5. RETURN the pan to the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the center of the cake is fully cooked. Once the cake has cooled for 20 minutes, flip it out of the cake pan and onto a cooling rack. Remove the parchment. Let cool fully while you make the frosting.


    PieCaken Slice - Zac Young

    Plain Pumpkin Pie

    TOP PHOTO: A slice of PieCaken up close. Photo courtesy David Burke Group. BOTTOM PHOTO: A pumpkin pie becomes the center layer. Photo by Mike Johnson | SXC.

    6. MAKE the cinnamon buttercream frosting: Find a pot that will fit the bottom of the bowl of the stand mixer, fill it with three inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place the egg whites and the sugar in the mixer bowl and place over the simmering pot of water. Stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm, about 4 minutes.

    7. PLACE the bowl on the mixer stand, fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on medium high until cool (about 8 to 10 minutes). Cut the butter into 1 inch cubes and gradually add to the mixer. Mix until the butter has incorporated and the frosting is light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the salt, vanilla and cinnamon and whisk until combined.

    8. ASSEMBLE the PieCaken. It is easier to assemble if the pies are chilled. With a small knife, cut the outer crust off the pies, leaving only the filling and the bottom crust. With a serrated knife, cut off what was the top of the cake, which is now on the bottom. Do this by cutting straight through the cake horizontally about a half inch up the side of the cake. Reserve the scraps for snacking.

    9. PLACE the pecan pie on an 8-inch cake board or serving plate. Spread a ½ inch layer of frosting over the top of the pie. Place the pumpkin pie on top and spread a ½ inch of frosting on top. Place the cake, apple side up, on top of the frosting. With a serrated knife, trim the sides of the cake to be flush with the pies. Add the scraps to the snack pile.

    10. USING an offset spatula, spread a ½ inch layer of frosting around the cake, covering the sides. Using a piping bag with whatever tip you want, pipe a pretty border around the top of the cake. Zac likee to leave the top of the cake unfrosted so you can see the apples.

    11. REFRIGERATE the PieCaken for at least an hour, or tightly wrapped for up to 5 days. Let sit at room temperature for an hour before serving so the buttercream softens. Cut the PieCaken into 8 to 12 slices using a sharp knife dipped in hot water. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Easy Rum Raisin Ice Cream

    Haagen-Dazs Rum Raisin Ice Cream

    Haagen-Dazs Rum Raisin Pint

    Look for it in stores or make your own Rum Raisin ice cream. Photos courtesy Häagen-Dazs.


    Our favorite Thanksgiving ice cream flavor is not Pumpkin, but Rum Raisin. It’s an old-fashioned flavor that seems very American (as rum was produced close to home, in the Caribbean). Actually, its roots are in Sicily; the history is below.

    It’s easy to make Rum Raisin from basic Vanilla ice cream:

    Marinate the raisins overnight in rum and sugar. Drain and stir the raisins into softened vanilla ice cream. Return the ice cream to the freezer to harden.

    Even easier: Use the rum-soaked raisins as a topping on vanilla ice cream, or interspersed in a parfait.

    TIP: We usually have a jar of rum-soaked raisins in the fridge, and give jars of it as gifts. It’s better visually to mix purple and golden raisins (sultanas). For Christmas, we add some dried cranberries; and also make a separate concoction of dried cranberries in a mix of rum and cranberry liqueur. All versions are delicious in a cup of hot tea.

    If you want to make Rum Raisin Ice Cream from scratch, here’s a recipe from Saveur.

    It’s so much more special than vanilla ice cream, with:

  • Apple pies and tarts
  • Sundaes and waffle sundaes with caramel or hot fudge
    Use the marinated raisins themselves as a topping on:

  • Bread puddings
  • Poached pears, compotes and other cooked fruit dishes
  • Rice pudding and other puddings


    In Sicily, where it originated, what we call Rum Raisin is known as Málaga. The Sicilians were the first to create Rum Raisin gelato, which was originally made with the local Marsala wine instead of rum.

    The raisins were soaked overnight in the wine and then mixed into vanilla gelato*. The sweet Málaga raisins with a burst of alcohol were a hit, and led to Rum Raisin/Málaga flavors in other desserts. Bread puddings, cakes (especially fruit cakes and pound cakes), cookies, custards, pastries, pies and puddings were all enhanced with rum-soaked raisins.

    A grass originally from the the Pacific islands of Melanesia and Polynesia, sugar cane was introduced to the Caribbean in 1493 by Christopher Columbus [sugar history and source].

    By the 17th century, the Caribbean had become the major source of sugar for the West. Molasses is a by-product of refining the cane juice into sugar. Rum was first made from fermented and distilled molasses, most likely on the island of Barbados, where plantation slaves discovered that molasses could be fermented into an alcoholic beverage and then distilled to remove its impurities.

    Fast forward to ice cream: As flavors proliferated in the U.S., rum-soaked raisins were as much a hit as they had been in Italy (the history of ice cream).

    According to, alcohol and ice cream were “pondered in the 18th century; commercially achieved in the USA during the 1930s.” A 1932 newspaper display ad in the Ardmore [Oklahoma] Daily Admoreite of January 14, 1932 declared, “Extra Special. Rum Raisin Ice Cream. Entirely New.” In 1970, President and Mrs. Richard Nixon gave a dinner in honor of President and Madame Georges Pompidou of France, which included pistachio and rum raisin ice creams in the shape of a melon.”

    In the early 1980s, Häagen-Dazs made sure almost all Americans could taste Rum Raisin, by launching the flavor—its fifth, after chocolate, coffee, strawberry and vanilla. It became a hit, but the company now has 24 basic ice cream flavors plus 9 gelato flavors, 7 artisan flavors and 4 sorbets. As a result, Rum Raisin has become a fall season flavor.

    But, just keep that jar of rum-soaked raisins in the fridge and vanilla ice cream in the freezer, and you can have it whenever you want.
    *The difference between gelato and ice cream.



    TIP OF THE DAY: The Best Thanksgiving Dessert Could Be Bites

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/pumpkin cheesecake bites whiteonricecouple 230

    Bountiful Cookbook

    TOP PHOTO: Cut up the brownies, cheesecake and pumpkin, insert toothpicks, and everyone will enjoy dessert more by eating less. BOTTOM PHOTO: The photographers also cook. Take a look at their fruit and veggie-centric cookbook. Photos ©


    You know how you feel at the end of the turkey course at Thanksgiving dinner: stuffed to the gills (although it seems that the expression should be adapted to “stuffed to the drumsticks”).

    There’s still dessert to be had—delicious dessert(s) handmade with love. But no one really has room for a piece of pie or even that wonderful pumpkin cheesecake.

    Here’s a solution we adapted after seeing this photo from

    The couple comprises Todd and Diane, top professional food photographers who cook at home when they aren’t shooting someone elses’s fare. They also grow vegetables and have almost 40 fruit trees in their garden.

    And no surprise, they’ve written a cookbook, Bountiful, with each recipe featuring a vegetable or fruit as the star of the meal. You can also go to their website and sign up for social media posts. But back to the…

    1. Make desserts that are dense enough to be cut into squares, like bar cookies (that’s the category* for brownies, lemon bars, etc.). Below are recipes for cranberry, pecan, pumpkin and pumpkin cheesecake bars.

    2. Cut the bars into bite size squares, add a fancy toothpick and pass the plate. The theme: Enjoy dessert more by eating less. Even people who “can’t eat another bite” can have a satisfying bite or two. Everyone will thank you for coming up with such a smart solution.


  • Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars Recipe
  • Cranberry Bars Recipe
  • Cranberry Curd Bars on Walnut Shortbread Recipe
  • Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars Recipe
  • Pecan Pie Bars Recipe
  • Pumpkin Bars With Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
  • Pumpkin Swirl Chocolate Brownies Recipe
  • Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies Recipe
    *Bars are categorized as cookies instead of cake because they are finger foods that don’t require a fork.



    FOOD FUN: Angry Turkey Cheesecake

    For years, we’ve loved the designs of Elegant Cheesecakes,

    Since 1988, Elegant Cheese Cakes has designed memorable wedding cakes, birthday cakes, and other special occasion delights. It was one of our Top Picks Of The Week ten years ago. We’ve been evangelists ever since.

    Working in cheesecake, chocolate cake and other popular flavors, owner and pastry chef Susan Morgan and her team create masterpieces to look like whatever the client requires.

    Burgers, cigar boxes, footballs, gift boxes tied with ribbon, guitars, handbags, jack-o-lanterns, miniature replicas of homes…no design is too intricate for these cake artisans.

    Of course, more traditional shapes are also in the portfolio.

    If you have a dream cake in mind, check out the ideas at

    Our questions: Who ordered the angry turkey? And when do we get a slice?


    Turkey Cheesecake

    “Bite me,” says the turkey. Photo © Elegant Cheese Cakes.




    HOLIDAY: National Carbonated Beverage With Caffeine Day

    November 19th is National Carbonated Beverage With Caffeine Day.

    There are seven foods that contain natural caffeine. Can you name them?

    The first one is a giveaway: coffee. The other six are below, but before you look, here’s the caffeine comparison between drip coffee and espresso:

  • A cup of drip coffee has at least twice the caffeine as a cup of espresso, due to its much larger serving size. However, from a volume perspective, espresso has much more caffeine than drip coffee.
  • Eight ounces of drip coffee contains approximately 65-120 mg of caffeine. One ounce of espresso has 30-50 mg of caffeine.
  • On a per-ounce basis, the drip coffee has approximately 8.1 to 15 mg of caffeine per ounce; the one ounce of espresso has 30 to 50 mg of caffeine.
  • On a per-ounce basis, espresso wins; although you’d have to drink at least two of them to get the caffeine content of one eight-ounce cup of drip coffee. No problem: We always order a double espresso! [Source]


    Espresso & Amaretti Cookies

    Many people turn to espresso for a hit of caffeine. But you’d get more caffeine with a cup of drip coffee. Photo courtesy Hiline Coffee Co.

    Now for the rest of the foods and beverages that contain natural caffeine:

    2. Conventional tea, the second most consumed beverage in the world after water. The same leaf, Camellia sinensis, makes black, green, oolong and white tea, depending on how long the leaves are pan-toasted. More about the types of tea.

    3. Cacao, in cocoa and chocolate products. It’s made from the seeds of a large pod (cabosse) that grows on the cacao trees. How chocolate and cocoa are made.

    4. Guarana, a component of energy drinks. The seeds in the berries contain about twice the concentration of caffeine found in coffee seeds (which are roasted into coffee beans); about 2%–4.5% caffeine in guarana seeds compared to 1%–2% for coffee seeds.

    5. Guayusa, a leaf from the guayusa tree. Native to the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest, it is a member of the holly family. The leaves of the guayusa tree are dried and brewed like a tea for their stimulative effects. You can buy the Runa brand in the U.S.

    6. Kola nut, used to make cola soft drinks. The nut is the fruit of the kola tree, an evergreen native to the tropical rainforests of Africa.

    7. Yerba maté, another South American holly leaf, that originated in Paraguay and was first chewed and brewed by the indigenous Guaraní people. The dried leaves are steeped into the most popular beverage in Argentina (more).

    Now, about National Carbonated Beverage With Caffeine Day: You can find carbonated chocolate drinks, carbonated cola drinks, carbonated energy drinks, even carbonated guayausa and yerba maté. Drink up!



    FOOD FUN: The “Holiday Bird” Turkey Burger

    Last year’s seasonal special at Umami Burger was the Pumpkin Spice Latte Burger.

    The burger patty was first topped with aïoli (garlic mayonnaise), followed by:

  • Kabocha tempura, the kabocha standing in for pumpkin
  • Spiced mascarpone cheese
  • Coffee glaze
    This year, a fan favorite, the Holiday Bird turkey burger, returns. It’s both “an entire holiday meal with each savory bite,” and “everything but the apple pie.”

    Here’s what’s in-between the bun:

  • Turkey burger patty
  • Cornbread stuffing patty
  • Turkey gravy
  • Ginger-cranberry chutney
  • Spiced Japanese yams
  • Fried sage leaf
    The Holiday Bird is available at all Umami Burger locations throughout the holiday season.

    For each burger sold, one dollar will be donated to Meals On Wheels America, which supports more than 5,000 community-based senior nutrition programs nationwide.

    If there’s no Umami Burger near you, nothing’s stopping you from re-creating it at home, perhaps with a side of sweet potato fries in addition to those spiced yams.



    Holiday Bird Burger at Umami Burger

    TOP PHOTO: The 2014 Pumpkin Spice Latte Burger. BOTTOM PHOTO: The 2015 Holiday Bird Burger. Photos courtesy Umami Burger.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Leaf-Shaped Veggies For Thanksgiving

    You can be very artistic with vegetables. It just takes a bit of planning. While it takes some dexterity to make this “rose tart”, here is a simple alternative.

    It comes from one of our favorite creative cooks, Vicky of She cuts up vegetables with a leaf cookie cutter before roasting them. She then tosses the cooked veggies in a mustard and maple syrup vinaigrette.

    Cookie cutters make vegetables fun any time of the year. You can make stars for Christmas, hearts for Valentine’s Day, bunnies for Easter and so on. Check the size of you cutter to be sure it isn’t larger than the beets and potatoes. You may need to use two sizes: medium and small. Here’s a good set of leaf cookie cutters from Wilton: three different leaves, each in small, medium and large.

    After you’ve cut out the shapes, keep the vegetable scraps to make stock; or chop them and steam them lightly to use in scrambled eggs, omelets, grain salads, etc. Stick them in the freezer if you’re too busy to think about it now.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Vegetables

  • 9 ounces/250g uncooked red beets, skinned and trimmed
  • 18 ounces/500g butternut squash, peeled


    Volunteer to make the vegetables; then cut them with a leaf-shaped cookie cutter. Photo ©

  • 14 ounces/400g Yukon Gold, Purple Peruvian or other all-purpose* potatoes, washed and peeled
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper
    *Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn and/or Purple Peruvian potatoes will give you the color you want. You can substitute other all-purpose potatoes such as Katahdin or Kennebec (a leading chipping potato). Check out the different types of potatoes in our Potato Glossary.
    For The Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or substitute†
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of grain mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup (or to taste)
  • Garnish: 1 heaping tablespoon capers
  • Garnish: a few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary
    †Substitutes in order of preference: rice wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar. See the different types of vinegar.



    Headed for the oven. Photo ©



    1. LINE two baking pans with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.

    2. SLICE the potatoes and butternut squash into 1/8-inch thin slices, using a very sharp knife or a mandolin on its thickest setting. If cutting with a knife, ensure the slices as even as possible.

    3. SLICE the beets the same way. Use a separate chopping board or cut the beets last, or they will bleed into the other vegetables.

    4. USE a leaf cookie cutter to cut out the leaves. For more visual interest, use different shape leaves (maple and oak, for example). Once again, keep the beets on a separate chopping board so they don’t bleed on the potatoes and squash. TIP FROM VICKY: Raw root vegetables are a lot tougher to cut than cookie dough, so protect your palms by placing a small towel underneath your hand when you press down on the cutter.

    OPTIONAL: You can make the leaves even more decorative by scoring some veins with a knife. This is labor intensive and a task ideally delegated to a helper.

    5. PLACE the potato and squash in a bowl and toss in most of the oil, paprika salt, pepper and some herbs. Move the oiled squash and potatoes to one of the lined baking sheets. Place the beets in the same bowl, toss them in the remaining oil, paprika, salt, pepper and herbs, and add them to the other baking sheet.

    6. PLACE both baking sheets in the oven. Cook the smaller leaves for 20 minutes and the larger leaves for 30-40 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking…

    7. MAKE the dressing: Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and mustard in a bowl. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Next, whisk in the maple syrup.

    8. PLACE the cooked vegetables on a warm serving dish. Pour on most of the dressing, reserving some in a jug for those who’d like more. Scatter the capers on top. Garnish with fresh thyme and rosemary sprigs before serving.



    FOOD FUN: Fall Leaf Cookies

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/leaf cookies craftsmanandwolves 230

    Make shortbread leaves in the colors of fall. Photo courtesy Craftsman and Wolves | San Francisco.


    If you want to bring something homemade to your Thanksgiving hosts—but they don’t need another pie—bake leaf-shaped shortbread cookies in fall colors.

    These were made by the wonderful San Francisco Bakery, Craftsman and Wolves. Click on the links for recipes from The Nibble, Epicurious and Martha Stewart.

  • Autumn Spice Shortbread (add some food color for an orange-colored dough)
  • Chocolate Shortbread
  • Golden Shortbread
  • Matcha Shortbread

    You could also make almond shortbread, ginger shortbread with crystallized ginger, lemon or orange shortbread.

    All you need are your favorite shortbread recipe or one of ours, a leaf cookie cutter and some optional sanding sugar.

    With a set of assorted leaf cookie cutters, you can use a different shape for each flavor.




    BEST BRUNCH: UrbanSpace Vanderbilt

    Head to UrbanSpace Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt Avenue and 45th Street in Manhattan. It’s the block north of Grand Central Terminal, and our new favorite food hall.

    Its parent company, Urbanspace, “cultivates creatively rich environments, places where local makers collaborate, exchange ideas, and showcase their wares.”

    Why run all over New York City to find what’s hot and trending when here, in one space, some 20 food artisans sell their wares?

    We were one of a group of lucky food writers who were invited to taste a sample from every boutique for weekend brunch.

    And what a brunch it was: a memorable buffet of delicious, modern casual fare that can accommodate almost anyone’s diet (mainstream, Paleo, vegan and vegetarian).

    In fact, if we were planning a wedding or other big party, we’d rent out the entire space and let our guests go from bay to bay, assembling their ideal feast.

    Here’s what we had. We’re leaving out the adjectives because everything listed would get a superlative. Alas, we filled up to bursting before we could taste everything that was served, so apologies to those we didn’t get to. We shall return.

  • Asia Dog, hot dogs with Asian-inspired toppings, which also has stands at Brooklyn Flea, Madison Square Eats and Smorgasburg. For breakfast, though, they substituted banana yogurt with fresh fruit, gluten-free granola and almonds for a kimchi-topped dog.
  • Hong Kong Street Cart: assorted dumplings. These are a nice warm-up (no pun intended) to anything else you have.
  • La Palapa Taco, an outpost of a Mexican restaurant in the West Village. Hibiscus Rose Sangria Slushy and a Chilquiles Verdes Taco with grilled steak, tomatillo salsa, queso fresco and crema.
  • Maiden Lane from the East Village, specializing in creative casual fare with fine European tinned seafood. For breakfast/brunch we had the Lower Eastsider: cured salmon, cream cheese, pickled red onion and fresh dill on an “everything” bagel. We can’t wait to go back for the whitefish salad and the rest.


    Currant Rosemary Scones From Ovenly

    Tomato, Sausage & Sage Pizza

    TOP PHOTO: Scones from Ovenly. BOTTOM PHOTO: Tomato, Sausage & Sage Pizza from Roberta’s. Photo by Deirdre Schoo.

  • Mayhem & Stout, a sandwich spot in Murray Hill that specializes in creative braised meat combinations with house-made condiments. We had the Apple Cider Mimosa and the Featured Mashup (see below).
  • Ovenly, a coffee shop and bakery in Greenpoint, Brooklyn that we’ve always wanted to go to. We had Currant-Rosemary and Cheddar-Mustard Scones with butter and jam; and gluten-free honey granola with local-made yogurt. We bought a piece of Blackout Cake to take home.
  • Red Hook Lobster Pound, a casual seafood restaurant in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn, with other locations plus food truck. We downed the Lobster Bloody Mary, garnished with a ready-to-eat lobster claw; but by the time the Lobster Cheese Fries arrived, we couldn’t eat another bite of anything. We’ll go back for them, along with a lobster roll.
  • Roberta’s Pizza, headquartered in East Williamsburg, served a Speck & Egg Pizza with mozzarella, mushrooms, speck (a type of prosciutto), onions and oregano; the egg was baked on top. We’ll be back for the L’il Stinker and the Cheeses Christ pizzas.
  • Sips & Bites, a Brooklyn café that serves American favorites with flare, dished up a Buttermilk Biscuit Sandwich with fresh ricotta, truffle honey, bacon and pink peppercorns.
  • Takumi Taco, Japanese-inspired Mexican food in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, served a breakfast burrito: scrambled eggs, black and pinto beans, chorizo, avocado, cheese and tomatillo salsa. We can’t wait to go back for the spicy tuna tacos.
  • Toby’s Estate, a coffee boutique in the West Village and Brooklyn, served up the best cup of coffee I’ve had in a long time: Single Origin Kenya Chania, brewed to order. Other single origins and blends are available, including decaf.
  • Two Tbsp, a vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free street food vendor currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to fund its first permanent location.
    There’s also a Featured Mashup, when two vendors collaborate on a dish. This month, Dough Donuts and Mayhem & Stout created a Pulled Pork Glazed Doughnut, the hefty glazed donut generously topped with pulled pork and served with a house-made barbecue sauce and maple brown sugar hot sauce.

    Here we have to use an adjective: memorable.


    Pulled Pork Glazed Donut

    Deconstructed Nicoise Salad

    TOP PHOTO: Pulled Pork Glazed Donut. Photo
    courtesy Mayhem & Stout. BOTTOM PHOTO:
    Deconstructed Niçoise Salad. Photo courtesy
    Maiden Lane.



    UrbanSpace Vanderbilt is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily:

  • 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • 11 a.m to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
    The address is 230 Park Avenue (the Helmsley Building), but don’t look for an entrance there. The entrance is on Vanderbilt Avenue between 45th and 46th Street.

    Go to 45th or 46th Street and head to Vanderbilt, which is east of Madison Avenue and west of Lexington Avenue. Lost? Call 212-529-9262.

    This is part of the annoying New York real estate developer habit of using the most prestigious address allowable by the Buildings Department, even though there’s no entrance at that address (it’s around the corner on a less-prestigiously-named street). You won’t find any door to the Helmsley Building on Park Avenue, either. The entrance is on East 45th Street.

    In a neighborhood where premium casual fare is hard to find, UrbanSpace Vanderbilt is a welcome addition:

  • For everyone who works in the area.
  • For people who need to meet around Grand Central.
  • For guests at all the local hotels.
  • For foodies looking for a cornucopia of riches.
    The place was packed!




    FOOD FUN: Kermit Eggplant

    Kermit is the name of a small, green eggplant, bred in the U.S. from the round Thai eggplant. It is also known as Garden Egg and Bitter Ball, the latter since they grow bitter the longer they are off the stalk.

    But some clever American, probably selling the eggplants or the seeds, gave it the name “Kermit” after Kermit the Frog. They’re adorable, small and green, just like the frog.

    A member of the Nightshade Family, Solanaceae (as are the tomato and the potato), Kermit is a variant in the genus and species Solanum melongena, to which all eggplants belong.

    These golf ball-size eggplants average 1½”-2″ in diameter (an American golf ball is 1.68 inches).

    Kermit and all Thai eggplants differ from other eggplants not only in their size and shape, but also in that they can be eaten raw, and have tender, edible skin.

    When you’re Kermit, it’s tasty being green, with quick-cooking, meaty flesh.

  • In Thai dishes they are often halved or quartered before cooking, but can also be cooked whole. They hold their shape well.
  • As they cook in a sauce, such as green or red curry (or marinara, for that matter), they become softer and absorb the flavor of the sauce.
  • Add them to stewed dishes or stir fry them and serve with marinara and Parmesan, or other favorite sauce.
  • Kermits are eaten raw in Thai salads or with nam phrik, a hot and spicy Thai chili paste. One might say that dipping raw Kermits into nam phrik is a form of Thai crudités. Try them that way, and also sliced into your salad.

    Kermit Eggplant


    TOP PHOTO: The Kermit eggplant. It’s easy being green. Photo courtesy Foragers City Grocer | New York. BOTTOM PHOTO: The namesake. Photo courtesy


    Like other eggplants, Kermits are high in fiber, folate, manganese, potassium, thiamine and vitamin K. They are also low in calories and have no fat or sodium. Two eggplants have 25 calories.

  • Thai Green Curry With Kermit Eggplants Recipe
  • Tomato & Kermit Eggplant Ragu Recipe
  • Stuffed Kermit Eggplants recipe

    The shelf life of Kermit eggplants is typically shorter than other varieties. Once picked they should be refrigerated in plastic, for no more than 1 week. They become increasingly bitter as they age.

    You may want to try growing them at home. Eggplant is easy to grow, with big yields. You can buy seeds here.



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