Tag Archives: yummy

Westside Watch: Peanut Butter Love

Peanutty goodness.

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I adore peanut butter. I have it every morning with my breakfast and I manage to sneak in a few spoonfuls from the jar at least once a day. I’m a proud crunchy fan and I might go so far as to call myself an aficionado of peanut butter. Unsurprisingly, my favorite kind of sandwich is peanut butter and jelly. I’m unabashedly in love with the stuff,

When I got to college, however, I was a little surprised. Yes, all of the dining halls have peanut butter but they have Skippy or Jif. While this may not seem strange to anyone else, I grew up eating the type of peanut butter that required a thorough stirring before ingestion in order to incorporate the oil floating on the top. This was normal at home. I’m confident that before I got to New York, I had maybe had commercial peanut once or twice before. But, as that was all they had, I began eating it. And, I kind of loved it. That kind of peanut butter is almost like dessert and given the amounts of sugar in it, one could probably eat it for dessert as well. Needless to say, I did feel a little guilty; like I was betraying the organic peanut butter I was so used to at home.

In order to assuage my guilt, I turned to my favorite store in the world, Westside Market. Several times before, I had seen their selection of homemade peanut butter but I had never picked any up before. I went back to try their natural peanut butter. When I got there, I noticed that they also made homemade almond butter and cashew butter, but those would have to wait for another time. I was here for the peanut butter.

I took it home and tasted it in its most pure form: straight from the little plastic container. Upon first taste, I remembered what peanuts actually taste like. This was definitely homemade. It was much chunkier and thicker than the Skippy at school. And it was delicious. So now I’m stuck in between my desire to eat junk food peanut butter and my desire to eat naturally. Alas, maybe I can have both? But be warned, if you’re attempting to make a peanut butter and jelly with this peanut butter, be careful, because I have a feeling it will tear up normal sandwich bread fairly easily. But if you’re anything like me, all you need is a spoon to be happy.


A guide to steamed and baked buns in Chinatown

Jenny brings one of the most informative guides of my undergraduate career.  I always knew that whatever I was eating was yummy, but now, I can at least pretend to speak about the various buns with some sense of intelligence!  So learn what you’re eating and find the best places to eat them.

Chinese buns dominated my summer visits to my extended family in China. From the bean paste bao sold from small storefront around the corner of my grandmother’s house to the plain, slightly sweetened mantou hawked on the streets of Shanghai every morning to the little rabbit shaped buns we ate on birthdays, you could have a bun for practically every meal and occasion.

For this sugar obsessive, visits to Chinatown are never complete without a few visits to my favorite haunts to snag a few nai huang bao (Custard buns.) or baked buns, which are much more prevalent in bakeries and Manhattan Chinatown in general. There are so many bun shops and bakeries in Chinatown, however, that it may be hard to decide on which one to go to. Thankfully, over my last summer here, I ate enough in my rabid obession  that I can give you rundown of what I believe to be the best of the best:

White Swan Bakery/Golden Steamer for traditional or non-traditional steamed buns:

Custard Bun (Nai Huang Bao)

I found that White Swan had the best filling to bun ratio, but for the freshest and most interesting assortment, go to the Golden Steamer (Not pictured.) The pumpkin bao at Golden Steamer are like eating an incredibly fluffy Asian variation on pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread. Golden Steamer also has buns in packs of six or eight for very reasonable prices, to be taken home and warmed up at leisure, perfect for those mornings when you don’t want to go out to get or make breakfast.

Bean Paste Bun (Dou Sha Bao)

White Swan Bakery: 24 Bowery, New York City, NY 10013

Golden Steamer: 143A Mott Street, New York, NY 10013 Continue reading A guide to steamed and baked buns in Chinatown

Smoked Duck Breast Crostini with Apple Confit

Credit: Scout MacEachron

Another entertaining post by Pippa, this one focuses on making duck crostini.  Pippa keeps it real and direct, so go ahead and try it!

Ducks. They look cute and, if I must be blunt, taste delicious. The meat is flavorful and has a huge cushion of fat that, when crisped up right creates enormous amounts of flavor. Duck is one of those meats that is hard to find in a normal supermarket unless it is D’Artangnan. Personally, I am not impressed by D’Artangnan. It is over priced and the portions they sell are so small that it is almost comical. However, there is a solution to this problem! Hudson Valley Duck Farm, which is located in Ferndale, NY rocks my world and is a vendor at the Columbia Greenmarket. See below for more info but for now the most important thing is that an applewood smoked duck breast is only $8.00. The best part about buying smoked meat it that it is already cooked so all you have to do is crisp the fat and slice.

 An easy appetizer that my family uses throughout the fall for everything from thanksgiving to an after school snack is thinly sliced duck breast on a garlic crostini with an apple and onion confit. By easy I mean that it takes maybe 20 minutes to make 25+ of these. When you bite into it you get the smoothness of the apples, the smokiness of the duck and the crunch of the bread. Finally the raw garlic hits you and you’re in heaven. Please, just try to resist. Continue reading Smoked Duck Breast Crostini with Apple Confit

Gelato in the Winter

Now that we’re all college students, we’ve found various ways to rebel against our parents’ boundaries and break free of our own inhibitions.  You know, like, eating dessert for breakfast.  Let’s face it; we’ve all been there.  Don’t try to deny it, let your inner child thrive in the memory. But, of course, since we’re Culinary Society, we rebelled with style.  Matt arranged for us to have a tour of il laboratorio del gelato, a fantastic business in the Lower East Side.  How was this possible?  The answer lies with il laboratorio’s owner, Jon Snyder, a generous and charismatic Columbia grad that took us through il laboratorio. Continue reading Gelato in the Winter

Event: Erotic Cake Competition – The Winning Master Bakers

“Let them eat cake.” This phrase is popularly attributed to Marie Antoinette as a highbrow, ignorant response to a bread shortage among the peasant community. While there is some doubt over the validity of this quote, Culinary Society upped the ante of the saying with, “Let them eat SEXY cake.” On the evening of February 8, Culinary Society returned from its three year hiatus to the Erotic Cake Competition. Yes, that does mean sex and cake, and yes, those are some of college students’ favorite things. We at Culinary Society are fully confident in this statement as more than a hundred students attended the Erotic Cake Competition to compete, taste, and indulge throughout the night.  It was one of our biggest turnouts to an event, and the future looks promising for more Erotic Cake Competitions.

There were a lot of fantastic entries to the Erotic Cake Competition to win $75 worth of organic Dagoba chocolate, courtesy of Good Housekeeping. Sensual and tasty baked goods were delivered by teams shortly before students hoping to get as much free cake as possible anxiously filled the room. First, a shout to all of our competitors – Smokin’ Hot, Happy Valentine’s Day, the Lazers, the Sexy Spinsters, Yeast Infection, Have Our Cake & Eat It Too!, The Aphrodisiakers, Delta Tao Sigma, the Pirates of Captain Jack, and Doggie Punches! You all were great, and it was wonderful to have so many options to choose from. Cake judging was based on three criteria: taste, originality/appearance, and sexiness. The judges consisted of Claire, co-president of Culinary Society; me (Amanda), photographer/blogger and hopeful taste tester in Culinary Society; and Easton, a model for C-Spot and a sex archaeologist (I know, too cool.) And now, for the cakes, photos, recipes, and videos… Continue reading Event: Erotic Cake Competition – The Winning Master Bakers