Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My First Homemade Peppermint Bark

I love peppermint bark even though I usually hate white chocolate. There's just something about the combination of white chocolate with peppermint that makes it satisfying. Anyway, I wanted to make this ever since Mrs. J. at work said that she loves it. I wanted to make her some once I knew that, but I didn't have time the day before I saw her, so I just gave her the Ghirardelli peppermint bark bars instead. I haven't tried those, so I can't comment on them. Eventually, I did make some bark for the people I was visiting in New York the week of December 6th, so here are my pictures and the pretty simple (but energy-consuming) recipe below. Sorry this first picture isn't that great. Made it too thick for my taste, too.

Hmm... This came out a bit too thick. Will use a wider cookie sheet next time. Will also take a brighter picture next time. haha

Original recipe @ Use Real Butter

1 pound chocolate (semi-sweet or dark)
1 pound white chocolate
12 peppermint candy canes

*At some point before step 5, you have to pound the 12 candy canes until you have powder and little pieces. I put the unwrapped canes in a large plastic bag and pounded it all with a wooden rolling pin on top of a cutting board.*
1) Melt the dark or semi-sweet chocolate in a double-boiler (I just boiled water under a bowl containing the chocolate)
2) Spread chocolate on a wax or parchment paper on top of a cookie sheet
3) Freeze that layer
4) Melt the white chocolate
5) Mix the white chocolate with the powdered candy cane pieces (The cane crushing takes quite some time and energy. I used a makeshift sifter because my sifter is small)
6) Spread the white chocolate on the dark or semi-sweet chocolate layer
7) Sprinkle the larger candy cane pieces on top of the white layer
8) Freeze whole thing until rock hard.
9) Take it out of the freezer and find a way to crack it without breaking or scratching anything...or putting your fingerprints on it (I just cracked it under plastic wrap). My dad and I used our hands and...clean kitchen scissors. If you make it thinner than I did, which I recommend, it'll be easier to break up. This first picture shows the canes a little bit too big still:

The small pieces (to mix into the white chocolate):

The bigger chunks (for the topping):

Melting the white chocolate chips with my little double-boiler:

I had trouble getting the white chocolate chips to melt...and then the tiny candy cane pieces wouldn't mix in well (it clumped a lot). :o(

Monday, December 21, 2009

Breakfast @ Cafe Metro

:Tuesday, 12/8/09:

Cafe Metro
22 West East 52nd Street
(212) 265-4848

After our NBC Studio tour and a few minutes after we were asked if we wanted to join the audience of The Dr. Oz Show (we declined because we had an appointment during the show's filming). Mom and I shared a breakfast plate at Cafe Metro, which had a similar atmosphere to Europa Cafe except it served a lot of breakfast food. The potatoes were as good as they looked, but the omlette was kinda tasteless. Satisfying and filling though. A guy on the street actually handed us a little flyer for this place, and we immediately just decided to go there since we needed to eat quickly.

Rafiqi's + Union Square Holiday Market in NYC

Rafiqi's food looked, smelled, and tasted so good. Mom & I saw a bunch of these food stands (and others serving different kinds of food) everywhere along the streets of Manhattan. The guy who sold us roasted peanuts said that he was open 24/7. Makes sense...people come out of Broadway shows and other kinds of entertainment late at night.

What did we get @ Rafiqi's? A shawarma of some kind. Beef? Lamb! I think so.... Pretty sad that I can't remember for sure.

Anyway, we shared that after getting off of a bus from the Bronx area just as we entered a street fair in Union Square (see pics below). Reminded me of a Berkeley street fair...but way better and with more people, vendors, and decorations.


Right after we got the shawarma, we walked through this area and briefly looked at some artwork. After I took one of the pictures below, one of the artists got mad at told me not to take picture of his work--even though I wasn't doing that. haha! Luckily, he was satisfied when I told him (truthfully) that I was just taking general pictures of the entire event.

Here's the area I liked the best (sorry...not a huge art fan):

I had to buy one of these cookies (such unique flavor combinations!) even though they were $2.00 each (yikes):

I went with the Kashmir (Earl Grey, smoked almonds, & chocolate cookie), but I didn't like the Earl Grey part of it. What was I thinking? I wasn't. I shoulda gone with the pretzel one or the one not described on the sign that had Vietnamese coffee in it. Oops. Anyway, here is the Kashmir, which I photographed later at home:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Europa Cafe in New York

Here is Europa Cafe's website.

To be honest, I only ended up inside this place because I was shopping in the clothing store next to it when I realized that I had to use the restroom. haha

Pretty much everything here looked delicious. Look at this double-crusted pizza! Kinda like a flat calzone I guess.:

ALL of these sandwiches looked and sounded so yummy.

Mom and I settled for a cranberry turkey sandwich, which was perfect and delicious. Sweet & salty too!! Almost as good as The Corner Bakery Cafe's chicken salad sandwich.

Passed by a lot of expensive chocolate places like this one:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I found the Street Sweets truck in NY!

Street Sweets
1040 First Avenue, Sweet (haha--it says that on their card) 305
New York, NY 10022
(212) 888-6633
Website here
Twitter here

.:Found in Manhattan on Monday, December 7, 2009:.

I told my parents that my mom and I had to look for this thing while we were in New York last week (I saw it featured on a talk show), and we found it without really trying (I guess it was in a convenient place). I really wanted their chocolate walnut cookie because I could smell the chocolate, but I was able to smell it so easily because they were still baking in the oven. Oh well. I settled for a multi-grain muffin topped with pumpkin seeds. Not the best thing I've ever had...but not the worst either. I wouldn't get it again, but I'd definitely try something else from here (their other stuff looked good...I dunno why I got that muffin)! My mom got a scone that she said was good but really buttery (I didn't take a picture of it...oops). You can follow Street Sweets on Twitter to see where they're located, etc.

My multi-grain muffin (pumpkin seeds on top...no pumpkin in the actual muffin):

A SQUAGEL & Oatmeal @ Cosi

.:Eaten on Monday, December 7th, 2009 in Manhattan (New York, New York):.

My sesame seed squagel (just a square-shaped bagel: edgy = crustier texture):

Mmm... Look at that bottom:

Mom's oatmeal w/ strawberries and milk (kinda watery-looking):

Took this so that I'd remember exactly where this place was (info necessary for the food blog):


I love the texture of these manju (like a steamed cake with a red bean paste inside). People have made lots of cute versions of this kind. Check out these, these, and these. The ones below were used in my grandma's Buddhist memorial service last week as a food offering in front of a little shrine.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Great Harvest Turkey Sandwich

Pretty healthy and delicious. I paid $6.95 for a full sandwich. You can also buy a half sandwich for $4.95. You can look at the sandwich menu.

I think I chose the "9-Grain" bread because I already knew that I love the Dakota bread + basil mayonaise + lettuce + tomatoes + turkey breast. Jenny T.'s chicken salad sandwich looked really good too. It was sweet & salty (with grapes)--the way I like chicken salad sandwiches.