Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Visit NYC on the Cheap: St. John the Divine and The Hungarian Pastry Shop

Since moving from NYC, it's been special to go back and see all the things I missed while I was living there. Since I still don't have millions to blow, I like to do things that don't cost a whole lot of money.

The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine (just say St. John the Divine if you have to ask for directions) is the 4th largest in the world and the largest in the U.S. For such a tiny city, this church takes up a lot of space. It is beautiful inside and out and has a great sculpture in the garden dedicated to the future children of the world and the creativity the carry with them. I believe admission to the church is free (the lady just waved us in despite the sign saying "thank you for your donation of $10") and there are some signs around giving some historical and architectural information about the church. It's great to walk around in, especially when it's cold outside. The address is 1047 Amsterdam Ave, and it's on the upper west side. Take the 1 train to get there.

Right across the street is The Hungarian Pastry Shop with a great vibe. There are lots of pastries to choose from and the art is pretty cool. I like this place because it's different than your mainstream "cool" coffee shop. It's grungy in an attractive way and it has quite a European cozy feel about it. You should note that the prices are more if you want to stay (rather than grab something and go) but it's not that much more. If you need somewhere to warm up and check on email (or blog!) I recommend this place. We ordered a cinnamon roll which was very flaky and had juicy raisins. They also carry Jewish treats, like hamentashen. The address is 1030 Amsterdam Ave. 

Hope you enjoy the places! Feel free to ask any questions.

  • Sunday, January 5, 2014

    Quick & Easy Sour Milk Biscuits

    There's a running joke around here that these are "Sour Milk Biscuits with Salt." The second time I made these, I forgot to put in the salt. After assuring my husband I had followed the recipe exactly, I was puzzled why they didn't taste as good as the first time. He quietly asked me if I had put any salt in them and I insisted the recipe didn't call for any. Well, I swallowed my words when I checked the recipe. Now, whenever I say I'm going to make some biscuits my husband asks "oh, are you going to make Sour Milk Biscuits with Salt?" It's just a gentle reminder. Don't forget the salt.

    At our house we always seem to have some sour milk on hand, so this recipe is pretty perfect for our family. If you don't have sour milk don't worry, you can still make these biscuits. Just set out a scant 1 cup of milk and add a tablespoon of vinegar to it. The milk will curdle in about five minutes and voila, sour milk. These will work just as well with lactose-free milk or half and half. I haven't tried soy, rice, or almond milk, but my guess is that as long as you add some lemon juice to react with the baking soda, it just might work.

    Sour milk biscuits with a side of persimmon. 

    We like these biscuits because they are fluffy and have nice buttery layers to them. They are a perfect substitute for the Pillsbury Biscuits from a can, but better since they don't have chemicals or unnecessary ingredients. They also come together pretty quickly- I start out by preheating my oven, and by the time it gets to 450F, my biscuits are ready to go in the oven.

    You can have these versatile biscuits for breakfast with jam and butter, or with a sausage patty and egg inside, or for dinner with chicken pot pie filling. They also freeze well- I've kept them for about 2 months in my freezer and reheated them in the micro for less than a minute when we want some.

    Quick and Easy Sour Milk Biscuits

    2 cups all purpose flour
    1 tsp. salt
    4 tsp. baking powder (seems like a lot, but you want them to be fluffy!)
    4 TBS cold butter or lard
    1 cup sour milk

    Preheat oven to 450F and line a cookie sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper. Mix dry ingredients together. Put fat in flour and mix together until pea-sized lumps occur (crumble with fingers).

    Make a well, pour in milk, and mix until it becomes a sticky dough. Flour work surface, rolling pin, and hands. Drop dough on surface. Work some flour into the dough by gently kneading.

    Roll out and fold dough in half. Repeat two more times, turning the dough 90 degrees each time. Roll out one final time and cut into circles with a cookie cutter (or, like I do, make squares but cutting with a pastry scraper). Bake 8-10 min. until lightly brown.