Monday, April 23, 2012

Thai Iced Coffee

It's Spring! Not like that's news to any of you, but I just want to be extra excited and happy it's Spring! It means the days are warmer, longer, and the season here on Martha's Vineyard is bustling up with excitement of what's to come this Summer. But before even mentioning Summer, let's stick with Spring and it's daffodils, fresh breezes, and most importantly, iced drinks. 

Lately I've been browsing Robert Danhi's newest cookbook, Easy Thai Cooking: 75 Family-Style Dishes You Can Prepare In Minutes which Tuttle Publishing sent to me as a review copy. Who's Robert Danhi? Well, in short, the man knows everything and anything that has to do with Southeast Asian cuisine. I had the pleasure of meeting him and attending a demonstration he did at CIA a few years ago about Asian Sauces. Here's an excerpt that I wrote in 2009 about that demo that illustrates Chef Danhi's work:
When you think about Asian Cuisine, what are the things that come to mind? Beef Teriyaki, Crispy Tangerine Chicken, normally dishes made with a specific sauce. While attending a conference on Asian Sauces at the Culinary Institute of America on November 11, 2009 presented by Chef Danhi reminded me that Teriyaki, Soy Sauce and Hoisin are not the only ones out there.  Chef Danhi has been all over Asia discovering the sauces that make up a cuisine, the sauces the grandmothers make at home.  Starting with the explanation of the how-to process of Soy Sauce, Chef Danhi takes us on a culinary adventure like no other. He is an amazing storyteller, illustrating flavors, developing stories and above all capturing the audience with his words.  His story is of photojournalism that leads him to meet the love of his life, his wife. At the same time of meeting this love consequently he meets his culinary love, Southeast Asia.  He tells of walking down the streets and up dark alleys, finding the old lady that has been cooking squatted down for the last decade; of the amazing smells that slapped him in the face as he walked past street stalls; the colors invading his sight were uncontrollable to him.  
The Asian Sauces guided tour was an awakening of the senses and started with a snack of Roasted Peanuts with chili and lemongrass flavors swirling around on your tongue. Commencing with the soy sauces and how they are brewed the traditional method. They both had a rich soy flavor which would ideally marinate meats. Moving on to one of my favorites, Plum sauce made from preserved Chinese plums, ginger and chili. It is normally used as a dipping sauce for roast duck and other roasted meats, but Chef proposed trying it over vanilla ice cream. Marvelous! Following the plum sauce was the Oyster Sauce, a unique recipe made from the founder of Lee Kum Kee products in 1888. Tradition says it was a mistake, as with all wonderful culinary discoveries that an oyster soup reduced to a syrupy sauce and this sauce was invented! Oyster sauce is a basic Chinese sauce, used in cooking and also marinating. After these sauces were explored, the trip kept moving on with Hoisin Sauce which can be best described as a spicy-sweet sauce made from selected spices and ground soybeans; Black Bean Garlic Sauce, mostly fermented black beans and garlic; Chili Garlic Sauce, Thai Sweet Chili Sauce and one that graces the tables of our Farq Hall, Sriracha Chili Sauce.
At the end of this culinary travel, Chef Danhi exhorts foodies everywhere to Question Everything! Ask, wonder, and be curious. A cuisine is not just the flavors but the geography, etiquette, ethnic diversity, history and population. Experiment Everything.
As you can see, he's extremely passionate about this food and the culture behind it. The book is complete with tips on stocking your pantry with Thai staples, as well as help with planning a Thai Menu. Chapters range from Snacks to Seafood, and one of my favorites, Noodles and Rice. Ending with Desserts and Drinks, I thought it'd be appropriate to share his recipe for Thai Iced Coffee, the perfect Spring 2012 drink!

Thai Iced Coffee 
From Robert Danhi's "Easy Thai Cooking"
Serves 4-6

1 1/4 cups Thai Coffee mixture "Oliang Powder"
4 cups water
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
6-8 cups crushed ice
4-6 straws
  1. Measure the coffee into the filter of the electric coffee maker. Fill the machine with water and run according to manufacture’s instructions. You may also use a French press to make this coffee base.
  2. Stir the condensed milk into the brewed coffee. Chill in the refrigerator.
  3. Fill the glasses with crushed ice, then top with the chilled coffee, it’s best if served with straws.

Stove top method: Stir the coffee grounds into the boiling water. Brew for 5 minutes. Strain through a
coffee filter, very fine wire mesh strainer or cheesecloth.

Hot Thai coffee method: Fill each cup with 3 to 4 tablespoons of condensed milk; top with 1 cup (250 ml) of hot coffee.

Notes: If you can't find Thai coffee, use any coffee bean you like but make sure it's a dark roast. Also, to keep your iced coffee chilled but not diluted, make coffee ice cubes! Brew extra coffee, chill, and freeze into ice cubes. And last but not least, make your own condensed milk! Thanks to Tuttle for sending me a copy of this book, and you should go out and get a copy for yourself as well!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Boston: Kimpton Nine Zero & Good Eats!

Happy Monday readers! Start your Monday with some coffee, and remember to enter my current coffee-loving illy giveaway! Nothing says Monday like enjoying some coffee throughout the day and these three new illy blends will give you a head start if you win! Good Luck and now for our regular programming...

Boston just might be my favorite city. It's big enough to keep me busy, but it's not as packed as the bigger cities. We ended our trip to IACPNYC with a stay at the Kimpton Nine Zero Hotel, the perfect spot to relax, have good food, and enjoy amazing customer service!

The Minibar: Foodie Inspired. An in-room martini bar? Yes please! Offering six different flavors of Stirrings drink mixers and rimmers, crystal glassware for both martinis and wine, as well as some curated snacks, the best spirits, and even a variety of local brews.Coffee makers are available upon request, and of course I needed to request one for my early morning rising. Up to my room, a Keurig brewing system was delivered with a variety of three coffee pods.

Details & Design are two of the Nine Zero's most prominent aspects and can be found in every corner of the room. Even the soap, wrapped in gorgeous paper is a treat! Entering the hotel through it's red brick structure, you arrive upon a lobby decorated with elegance and finesse, and you'll find sumptuous touches here and there. Riding the elevator up to your room and walking the quiet hallways, a sense of peace surrounds you. Sure, the Nine Zero is pet-friendly, but you won't hear any barking since I think even the dogs commit to the quiet peacefulness. Check out their specials and packages here.

Comfort is another major aspect of the Nine Zero. Did you know there is a pillow menu available? Catering to your every comfort, the Nine Zero has you covered!

Nine Zero Hotel features four one-bedroom suites and one penthouse suite on the 19thfloor called Cloud NINE. This ultra-luxurious suite floats dramatically above Boston with floor-to-ceiling windows and an unmatched panoramic view of the city.  Electronic drapes, a viewing telescope, plasma screen television with surround sound, and a steam shower and Jacuzzi complete the perfect cosmopolitan getaway.  Iris identification technology is also offered for keyless access to the Cloud NINE suite. Nine Zero Hotel is the first hotel in the world to use this technology. -Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants

Connecting with Kimpton - Nine Zero was another perk of our stay. Not only were they in constant contact with me, but they recommended the best place to eat in Boston's Chinatown: Gourmet Dumpling House. A short walk away from the Nine Zero Hotel, Boston's Chinatown is a great source for Asian products and meals.

We arrived at the Gourmet Dumpling House and decided to start our meal with Kimchi. It was M's first time trying it and he loved it. The perfect amount of spice and the cabbage leaves were a great, crunchy addition. It was followed with Juicy Pork Dumplings, Crab & Cream Cheese Ragoons, Beef with Long Horn Peppers, and white rice. An amazing meal that paired wonderfully with a can of Sapporo beer. Definitely check them out while in Boston!

Connect with Kimpton - Nine Zero
                                                                    Reserve your next stay on their site: 

Disclaimer: I was invited by Kimpton - Nine Zero to review their hotel and offerings free of charge. No monetary compensation was exchanged and my opinions are based solely on my personal experience. I've visited the Nine Zero previously before this stay and was just as happy. Read about it here.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Slightly Silent Sunday: Millet & Chia Sandwich

Still have a few more NYC/BOS posts to share with you, but in the meantime, let's whisper a little about sandwiches. Everyone loves a good sandwich and to me, what makes a good sandwich is great bread. Sure, the spreads are important, cheese, deli meats, and for me, a mix of herbs and greens make the sandwich. Below you'll see a few progressive pictures of my sandwich making. Wonder what bread I used? I'll tell you it's gluten free and delicious, so scroll to the bottom and discover the bread love!

As a sandwich lover, I had the chance to taste test this Millet-Chia bread by Udi's Gluten Free Foods and below you can read some facts about millet and chia from the Udi's blog:

Millet seed is an ancient grain first cultivated in China around 4500BC.  It is high in protein, fiber, magnesium, and phosphorus, all of which are important for certain functions in our bodies. 

An ancient grain stemming back to Mayan and Aztec cultures around 3500 BC, the teeny chia seed’s name literally means “strength.” This name is fitting, given its concentrated nutritional content.  Chia seeds have a mild, nutty flavor and can be added to a variety of foods to boost nutritional content, such as hot cereal, vegetables, sauces, and baked goods (such as breads and cookies).

The chia seeds add the perfect texture to this bread, and you feel like you're definitely eating something deliciously healthy. It toasted perfectly on a buttered cast iron skillet, and was strong enough to hold up to various ingredients. Ingredients that I think make one of the best sandwiches:
  • Cheese: One of my favorite cheeses to use in hot sandwiches is mozzarella, because of how gorgeous it melts and it's like the glue that holds my sandwich together;
  • Deli Meat: Another favorite, Honey Baked Ham. The balance of sweet and salty is joy in my mouth;
  • Greens: Have you ever had Pho? One of the things I love the most about it is the herb salad on the side, which I recreated here by tossing some fresh greens with cilantro. This adds a burst of flavor to an otherwise normal sandwich;
  • Spread: Sriracha and Mayonnaise. Go make it right now and try it, it will change you world. Want to add a touch of sweetness to it? Drizzle in a little honey! 
This sandwich was the perfect lunch using Udi's Millet-Chia Bread. You can purchase it online here and check your local markets as well! If you'd like, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter for updates, new recipes, products, and just an all around fantastic gluten free community.

Disclaimer: Udi's Gluten Free Products were sent free of charge as samples to allow for this review. No monetary compensation was exchanged. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

illy MonoArabica Coffee Package Giveaway

IACPNYC was a whirlwind of meeting new and old friends; of eating as many calories as possible in one day; of running up and down 8 flights of stairs because sometimes the elevators were full or just didn't come in time. Other than the fact that I LOVED my job at IACPNYC, the one thing that kept me going, walking, running, tweeting....was sipping illy coffee throughout the day.

On the 8th floor of the Millennium Hotel, the Hospitality Suite catered to recharging our batteries, both literally and physically. A station of illy coffee was set up and ready to serve us as many espressos as we needed during the day, with no judgement (I did excuse myself on the day I had 7 espressos....just because it was getting to be a little TOO much!)

So it brings me great pleasure to be able to share my addiction passion for illy coffees. Thanks to the generous folks at illy, we're giving away their MonoArabica Whole Bean Coffee Package which includes three (3), 8.8oz single origin, whole bean cans: Guatemala, Ethiopia, Brazil.

From Top Left: Amanda Hesser enjoying illy coffee; the illy coffee cans; our ever so nice barista; and yes, I sweetened my espresso with @ScharffenBerger Milk Chocolate!

Single-Origin Arabica Coffees Found in the illy Blend:
Brazil. Guatemala. Ethiopia.  Escape to far off places that spark the imagination with each sip of new illy MONOARABICA™ coffee. Explore the individual taste and distinct aroma of each single origin Arabica coffee, found in the legendary illy blend, each highlighting the singular style, culture and flavor of these distinctive geographic regions. These sustainably-grown coffees, hand selected and expertly roasted by illy, awaken the senses and satisfy your curiosity while offering you a pleasant escape from the ordinary.

Click on the giveaway link, like illy on Facebook, and win this fabulous set of illy coffee!
illy Giveaway
Details & Disclaimer: One entry per person, must have valid Facebook account to participate. The "Facebook like" is the official entry, there is no purchase necessary, void where prohibited. US mailing addresses only. One (1) winner will be chosen randomly. Prize will be shipped by illy USA. The contest ends Sunday, April 15th, 2012 at 11:59 pm Eastern time. The winner will be announced on Monday, April 16th via email and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. I was not compensated for this post, and am sharing it because I love illy!

Click on this link to enter (To keep track of entries, please leave a comment below!)
Enter to win the illy MonoArabica Coffee Package!

Connect with illy!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

#IACPNYC Round-up!

"If you saw the tweets, that was me!" - was my tiny elevator speech that would then develop into "food blogger, professional baker, living on Martha's Vineyard..." and so on. Because when at a food conference, people want to know what you do, what you do WELL, and how that can help them connect with you. 

IACPNYC - an almost week long event, with demonstrations, talks, sessions, networking breaks, festivals and so much more. Hosted by the ever rushing city of New York, it was a fantastic conference that brought together some of the best authors, bloggers, chefs, bakers, and social media personality in the food & beverage industry.

How I wish I could definitely and fully share with you all of what the conference was, but being that it was SO intense and awesome, I will leave with you a few highlights below:

Sessions included everything from pitching your cookbook proposal to publishers, to one on one coaching with industry professionals; topics ranged from local ranges to the digital media, and so much more.

The Food. During the networking breaks and a special cocktail party, we had food from our fabulous sponsors including Voss Water, Driscoll's Berries, Kerrygold USA, and Illy. Oh Illy! I must've drank 8 espressos a day, which definitely helped me keep running and sliding in and out of sessions! (Since I did all the tweets for the conference, I was lucky enough to go in and out of sessions to capture pictures and great messages from each and every one of the sessions!)

The Opening Party. The best restaurants in NYC, the most fabulous people in the industry, and some fantastic drinks made this night a foodie heaven! Who was there? Well, here's the Twitter list: @BaohausNYC, @ediandthewolf, @FANofLAMB, @WholeFoods, @USApears, @BlueSmokeNYC, @PUBLIC_NYC, @USADPLC, @SeamusMullen, @Tertulia_NYC, @LaEsquinaNY, @OsteriaMorini, @DinosaurBarBQue, @DeliNYC, @MaharlikaNYC , @jimmypotsandpan , @ChefMedinaNYC , @PeanutButterCo, @CabotCoop. 
What was served? Here are just SOME of the delicious dishes:
  • Warm Pork Belly with Corn Crème, Pickled Ramp and Crispy Pork Skin by @ediandthewolf
  • Spring Onion Biscuit with Spicy Lamb Gravy by Commerce using @FANofLAMB
  • Diver Scallop Crudo, Pineapple, Pickled Ramps, Chili & Lime by Market Table
  • Cod Poached in Carrot Butter w/ Chickpeas by The Beagle
  • Beef Ribs with Sesame Coleslaw by @BlueSmokeNYC 
  • Soft Boiled Eggs with Roe and Goat Butter @JimmysNo43 
  • Lentil Salad Summer Roll w/  Pomegranate Molasses Dressing by @PUBLIC_NYC
  •  Raw Tasmanian Sea Trout w/ Piccalilli & Shichimi by @PUBLIC_NYC
  • Grilled Lamb Breast, Creamy Lentils & Cauliflower by @SeamusMullen of @Tertulia_NYC
  • Long Island Black Bass Crudo, Roasted Red Pepper, Lemon & Rosemary by Marco Canora
  • Pasticcio di Coniglio - Rabbit Crostini w/ Parmigiano & Juniper Oil  by @OsteriaMorini
  • Brisket with Jalapeños by @DinosaurBarBQue
  • Sticky Toffee Cake, Dried Mango Biscotti, Dark Rum Crème Anglaise by @DeliNYC  
  • Pulled Pork Slider by Back Forty West #IACPNYC
  • Filipino Surf & Turf - Chicharron Manok w/ Kilawin & Paddlefish Roe by @MaharlikaNYC
  • Tacos de Puerco:  Mexican Chocolate Braised Pork, Chipotle Cabbage Slaw by @ChefMedinaNYC

The Book & Blog Festival. More than 100 authors came together to meet everyone, sign books, and talk shop! Oh, and most of the were serving some amazing treats as well! As you can see below, a few of the incredible authors I met: @LizWeiss @marisachurchill @andyhusbands and @edibleliving.

The Culinary Expo. Food Companies, Brands, Kitchen Tools, and so much more, all under one roof! It was amazing to experience all this amazing food at once, and it was great to see everyone come together for the love of food. Displays were creative, treats were delicious! This, as well as the Book and Blog Festival, was open to the NYC public, so it was packed and everyone seemed to have a fantastic time!

Hoping that this short but intense post helped you take a peek inside this years IACPNYC conference! In summary, I think this is a fantastic opportunity to not only meet your virtual friends, but also meet your favorite authors and really connect with them on a personal level. As a food blogger, you'll also be able to connect with like-minded brands, and as a professional in the industry, you'll be inspired to create more and more in your kitchen.

Stay connected with IACP via Twitter, Facebook, and the website. Next year, it's in San Francisco and I want to see YOU there!