Food, Yoga and Travel in Brooklyn
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Yoga Teacher training was an intense twelve weeks filled with asana (poses), anatomy, philosophy and practice teaching. At my times, my body and brain felt as though they were combust. One of my unexpected favorite parts of the class was the philosophy lectures when we talked about the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
The word sutras can simply defined as ‘threads’ and teachers use these threads to add their own “beads” of experience for the sake of their students and themselves.
It was Patanjali who expounded yoga thought throughout these scriptures and is often considered the father of yoga. It is unknown when he lived exactly but the Sutras can be dated to range from 5,000BC to 300AD. There are 200 of them. So much for the Ten Commandments huh? As Patanjali talked, his students jotted the Sutras down shorthand. Most of the sutras are just words or thoughts barely reaching a fully formed sentence.
The science of yoga is defined within the Sutras — It’s purpose, the practice, the obstacles you meet, how to remove said obstacles and finally the results. Each sutra flow into the next. The Sutras are split into four chapters or “Padas”. 1.Portion on Contemplation 2.Portion on Practice 3. Portion on Accomplishments 4. Portion on Absoluteness.
Spiritually, studying the sutras has given me what I have always craved and it has only just begun. I look forward to dissecting the sutras here as I move forward in my studies. It is my goal to start at the beginning and go Sutra by Sutra. I hope you enjoy them as much as me.
Sutra 1.1 in the Portion of Contemplation reads first reads: Hatha yoga anusasanana
Translated – Now the exposition of Yoga is being made.
Simply read – Yoga is now. Every single moment of every single day is yoga.
What does this mean? Yoga is only when on my mat for one-hour maybe one hour and thirty minutes! No. Here Patanjali says that our yoga practice goes beyond the physical and must be practiced all day every day for “without practice, nothing can be achieved.”
The physical yoga, which we all practice today, was designed to help us get to the real Yoga which is completely mastering your mind. And that is something that must be worked on when we are brushing our teeth, making breakfast, riding the train, etc.
More next Friday in Sutra 1.2.
Since I first bought Jim Lahey’s “My Bread” book focusing on the no-knead method, I’ve pretty much had it attached to my hip. It’s the only cookbook of mine that is just broken. Coffee split, pages stuck together and I swear, that if I lay it on the table, it turns directly to the page for pizza dough.
Yes, it’s that good. And even better is the recipe for sweet focaccia with dried berries. But for today we’re focusing on the standard loaf with a twist. The basic recipe makes it impossible to shape this dough into anything but a lump. Which is fine but I was thrilled when I saw both food52 and the kitchn have post guides on how to form this into a sandwich loaf.
The original recipe is not brain surgery and is easy to adapt. If you don’t have 12-18 hours for it to sit around and rise, you can increase the amount of yeast a hair. The original recipe calls for ¼ tsp. I went with 1 ½ tsp for a 6 hour rise.
As you can see, I played with the flours a bit, straying from the standard bread flour. I like the variation of adding oat flour. It gives the bread a soften texture and taste. I’ve tried it all white, all whole wheat, half and half. It works all ways and just depends on your tastes. I double the recipe and stick half in the fridge for later in the week. The yeast does wonders in the fridge and it’s even better the second time around.
Special Equipment needed – 1 loaf pan
2 cups bread flour
½ cup whole wheat
¾ cup oat flour (can be done by pulsing whole rolled oats in a food processor. Use whole wheat if you prefer to not do oats.)
1 ½ tsp yeast
1 ¼ tsp salt
3 cups water – room temperature
Combine flours, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Mix. Gently mix in the water with a wooden spoon. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, a plate or a tea towel and let sit at room temperature for 5-6 hours or until double in size.
Roll the dough onto a floured surface and knead a 5-6 times. Next – follow this technique since I didn’t take pictures. Essentially you will 1. Shape the dough into a rectangle. 2. Fold 1/3 of the dough to the center. 3. Take the last third and fold it over.
Either butter your loaf pan or throw some corn meal on the bottom. Place your loaf seam side down in the pan. Let rise for 1 hour or until double in size. It’s good to preheat your oven to 450 at least 30 minutes into the last rise.
Dust the dough with flour or cornmeal. Score the top with a serrated knife. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top has begun to brown. Once removed from the oven it will continue to cook and expand within the crust. No matter how tempting, let the bread cool for at least one hour.
As I sit down to write for the first time in a year, I feel myself becoming itchy.
Facebook – open – close – open – CLOSE. Do I need coffee? Yes. Is that hunger? Should I make my smoothie now or later? It’s hot. Let me rearrange the fan. Do I need to pee? Without a doubt.
And on and on and on and ON.
It’s been a YEAR.
What exactly have I been doing for a year that would take me from the one thing I have always claimed to love?
Asking yourself questions is hard. The mind interrupts with thoughts of more coffee and I’m hungry and running water, etc and more often than not those questions never get answered.
But today, now that the time is quiet and I’ve calmed my itchy-ness, I’m answering those questions because really, the answers are easy and they are nothing to be afraid of.
I got busy and then well, I fell in love – twice.
I can see now, very specifically the time I stopped writing this blog and it coincides with when my boyfriend and I started talking about moving in together. How typical right? Girl falls in love, girl forgets blog… but it was then that the world started spinning and I wondering what exactly I had gotten myself into. It was also then when I started to admit I was falling head over heels.
Love is scary y’all.
The world didn’t stop spinning until January. It was after a December of moving, a Christmas with both of our families (together – YIKES) and a January of silence and unpacking that things finally stopped moving. At dinner one night, I looked at this man, across our kitchen table and plates that I’m sure were filled with fresh pasta and realized that I felt at peace. I felt silence and love and I was ok with staying like that forever.
And because our love is the encouraging type, he wasn’t deterred when I said I wanted to sign up to do my 200 hour teacher training at YogaWorks and in turn losing every weekend for 3 months straight. He took it as a coup to have a yoga teacher girlfriend and went with it.
It was then that I fell in love a second time – with yoga. As someone who has been practicing for almost 10 years, I had doubts about what this training could do for me. My hips were just too big and my butt was just too wide to get into some positions. That was that.
No – it turn out that was not that. It turns out, yes I can hold plank for that long (which, in teacher training, is forever – FYI) and it is possible (sometimes) for me to do this (which I thought for be never ever, ever).
The training was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and I look forward to sharing my continuing education here on this blog.
So here I am. Still in love, but back. Awake. The fog is lifted and I’m ready to have my weekends back along with a cake or two here and there.
The focus here will be shifting a bit. I’ll be delving more into yoga and yoga philosophy. I’ll of course cooking and baking more with a focus on delving into my forgotten cookbooks. P and I also have a project in the works – coming soon!
There are few things in this world better than lobster, homemade pasta and fresh ricotta. Yes. Together. In the same day. On one plate.
The price of lobster has been driving way down lately – like $5/a pound down. And that’s for Fresh Direct, northeastern lobster. I’m not talking about Chinatown lobster here. It’s unheard of! That price has already inspired a lobster party in this lady’s apartment so when I saw that magical price again this week; I just had to order more.
There are quite a few lobster recipes on my to-do list. Spicy Singapore Lobster stew has been on there for as long as I can remember but it has just been to hot for that. This weekend, P and I went for lobster ravioli.
We chose to make our own dough and fresh ricotta from scratch. We used my trusty ricotta recipe and had to do a bit of trouble shooting due to a faulty thermometer. No worries though, we just brought the whey back up to temp and like magic, we had ricotta. For the dough we went with Lidia’s recipe. Any of her pasta dough recipes, which you can see here, will work wonderfully.
We followed this recipe. The filling was basic and was nice for the lobster, but the sauce…meh. I know, there is little wrong with tomatoes, garlic, and cream but when it overpowers lobster, it’s a terrible, terrible thing. Next time I’ll go with something more basic such as some olive oil, garlic and fresh tomatoes or just a brown butter with a tad of Parmesan.
PS. I realize now I should have taken more detailed pictures but there was quite a distraction with all of the making things from scratch. My apologies!
olive oil, extra virgin
mushrooms handful (optional, i like them )
1/4 c lobster meat
1 c cream (warm in microwave so it won’t curdle)
1/2 c tomato sauce
a few basil leaves chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 shallots, chopped
2 c cooked lobster meat, chopped roughly from 3-1lb. lobster (set aside ¼ cup or so of lobster meat for the sauce),
2 pinch parsley
1/2 lb ricotta cheese
3-4 Tbsp parmigiano-reggiano, grated
pinch salt and pepper
Cook shallots in olive oil on medium high heat.
Once the shallots have softened, add lobster meat and parsley. Take the pan off the heat and mix in the ricotta and Parmesan.Taste filling and season with salt and pepper to taste.
There are two options here.
Since we made our own down, we rolled out and used a ravioli press. If you do not have those tools available and are buying pre-made pasta dough you can use the following option.
On a pasta sheet laid out on the counter, add about a tablespoon or so of filling a couple of inches apart. Wet with egg wash (1 egg and a T Water) the pasta in between the filling creating the borders of the ravioli’s so they seal properly.
Top off with another pasta sheet.
Around each mound of filling, press out on the wet area, making sure there are no air pockets in the filling. Cut each ravioli out with a pizza roller. Ensure the ravioli’s are well sealed again (or they will open up in the water when cooking).
In a large pot of boiling water, cook the ravioli’s for 7-8 minutes until they float up. (If you are lucky enough to have extra, lay them individually on a baking sheet and freeze before cooking them. When they are frozen, place them in a sealed plastic bag.)
Cook shallots and garlic in oil.
When the mushrooms have softened, add lobster meat, tomato sauce and heated cream.Turn down the heat and let the sauce simmer until it has slightly thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add basil last.
In case the last post didn’t clue you in, P and I are crazy about corn right now. If you’re not into corn right now, it’s now or never. (Same goes for tomatoes) The season is fleeting and there’s no better way to embrace the end of summer. SUPER SAD FACE.
Today, we’re talking about corn cakes!
It only took me a bite to be fully and utterly hooked on these things. I’m two batches in and I’ll be going for a third this week.
The first batch we ate on the roof, covered in an heirloom tomato salad with fresh mozzarella. J ate a few smothered in honey. And what of the second batch? Well, the second batch I ate alone, and no I’m not ashamed. I sautéed some spinach and garlic, tossed in the fresh cherry tomatoes and ate on the couch, sans pants and a fresh (for me) episode of Freaks and Geeks. And yes, they are just as good thrown on a paper towel and eaten plain. Top with an egg for a delightful breakfast.
I adapted from Food52 and it’s as easy as can be. I replaced the buttermilk with my yogurt whey (a win win in my book!).
• 2 cups corn kernels, divided in half (from about 3 ears)
• 2 tablespoons butter, plus more for cooking
• 1/2 cup buttermilk (or yogurt whey)
• ½ cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup cornmeal
• ½ cup whole wheat flour (if you don’t have, just use equal amount of all purpose flour)
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1 tbsp maple syrup
• 1 tbsp chopped chives (optional)
• Pinch of salt and pepper
1. In a blender, purée half the corn kernels, butter, cayenne pepper and buttermilk until mostly smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Mix in remaining corn kernels.
2. In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine all of the dry ingredients.
3. Add wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until just combined.
4. In a skillet, melt some butter over medium heat and about add 2 heaping tablespoons of batter for each pancake. (You can customize this based on how big you’d like your cakes to be, of course.) Cook about 2 minutes per side or until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
written and cooked by Pitasushii
Restaurant Week, also known as “the two month period that restaurants snootily serve the lower class and call it a week” has just passed and man did I do it right this year! Five restaurants in five weeks took me through a tornado of amazing food around New York City. Being a bit of a foody, and a relatively poor one, I have some places I regularly hit up for deals during this time. My favorite as many of my friends know is Gotham Bar and Grill.
The reason it happens to be my favorite is that it somehow manages to be all my favorite things at once: unpretentious, conveniently located, fantastic service, complex and well thought out dishes, few tourists, local ingredients, I could go on and on. I decided to let my boyfriend in on the experience this time and reserved lunch for the two of us. One of the dishes (that I didn’t ORDER!) was a fantastic corn soup with roasted cherry tomatoes. I took one small taste from his bowl and my eyes rolled back in my head. What a fool I was to order the striped bass ceviche (which was also excellent) and not this amazingly flavorful corn soup.
I was so mad at myself, I decided it was time to try and make it. I was doubly inspired when I happened upon this corn soup recipe I found on Food52. It was easy, few ingredients, and after a few tweaks was very close to the soup I fell in love with. Give it a try. It’s quick enough it can be thrown together after work and enjoyed for days after.
Smooth as Silk Corn Soup inspired by 80twenty
• 5 cobs of corn
• 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter
• 3 small leeks, white part only
• 1 small Yukon potato, rough chopped
• ¼ cup cashew pieces, plus a few extra
• 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Cherry tomatoes (optional)
Remove the corn kernels from the cob and set aside. This is easiest done by holding the corn vertically on top of a bowl on a large plate and cutting down the sides. Break the cobs in half and place, along with 8 cups of water, in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer for 30 minutes or more (if you’ve got the time).
To prepare the leeks, fill a large bowl with water then cut each leek in half down the middle until just before the stringy white root. Slice the leeks into thin half moons and toss into the bowl of water. Once all leeks have been sliced and submerged, toss around with your hands to loosen any sediment, then scoop the cleaned leeks off the top. All of the sediment will be on the bottom of the bowl so scoop, don’t strain! This may sound like a huge pain in the ass, but I promise you, it’s worth it to not chomp down on some sand like you’re eating your soup at the beach.
As the corn stock is cooking, in a second large pot heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook until just soft and translucent. Once the corn stock is ready, add to the leeks along with reserved corn kernels, potato, cashews, and tarragon then simmer for 30 minutes.
Take off heat and using an immersion blender, blend until completely smooth. This could take about 5 minutes depending on your blender. If you have a really great blender, power to you!
This next part is a pain but makes a huge difference. Press the soup through a fine mesh sieve. You will need to stir it and scrape the sides to get all the liquid through, but I promise it is worth it.
The soup should be extremely smooth and fragrant. Add lemon and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve sprinkled with some extra crushed cashew pieces, roasted cherry tomatoes (literally halved tomatoes I toasted for 5 minutes on some tin foil), and a drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!
I was thinking, Why does this cake need cinnamon? at the exact moment I pulled it from the cabinet and simultaneously opened the container and spilt it all over myself.
Have you ever split cinnamon on your face? It’s a weird feeling, not unlike sand, but softer, more pungent. I can still taste it through my nose. Yes, weird I know.
Anyways, this cake!
Oh man, once this baby started baking, the smell of lemon and cinnamon wafted through the apartment making it all too clear why this cake was one the most requested from the New York Times. And yes, the cinnamon and lemon started to make sense too.
I’ve had this recipe in my queue for quite a few summers, refusing the use anything other than farmer’s market plums and constantly missing the short season. Not this summer my friends. A quick run for tomatoes turned into a heavy loot to carry home with eggplants and zucchinis at their peak. And of course, among that was a nice pound of sugar plums.
While this recipe asks for Italian purple plums, I made do. I can see why though, the sugar plums are softer and they disintegrated a bit. No worries though because it only gave the cake more of an opportunity to soak up the plum-y goodness.
Overall, this is simple cake and can be used with a variety of summer fruits. The dough is sweet and the crunchy top is worthy of any crème brulee. Enjoy!
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 tsp of baking powder
large pinch of salt
1 cup sugar (I used 2/3 cup – later versions of the recipe cut to the ¾ cup), plus 1 tbsp (give or take depending on the tartness of the plums)
8 tbsp of unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
12 purple plums, halved and pitted
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt
3. Cream 1 cup sugar and butter in a large bowl until light in color. Add the dry ingredients and then the eggs.
4. Spoon the batter into an ungreased 9-inch spring form pan.
5. Cover the top of the batter with the plum halves, skin side up.
6. Sprinkle with the remaining tbsp of sugar and the lemon juice. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
7. Bake until golden and the plums are bubbly 45-50 minutes. Cool on rack.
Crumbles and crisps are all the rage this time of year when berries are in full bloom at the farmers market. But the media this year in particular has unearthed a few more items to add to our repertoire. The buckle…the brown betty…sonker…the pandowdy….grunts…slumps. I won’t go into the details.
And that’s just the start of it.
Today, I’m here to talk about the buckle. A buckle is a single layer cake with berries added to the batter. The topping is a streusel, which gives it the buckled or crumbled appearance.
Yes please. This one in particular… A berry one with a roasted hazelnut streusel topping (Yup, went there) is nothing short of amazing. The recipe come from Food52 by way of Joy of Baking.
I like the streusel topping of the Food52 version. More butter, more spices with the added touch of a high-class hazelnut sits just right with me. But the batter and filling recipes of the Joy of Baking seems more suited to an original buckle. Is it worth the extra steps? Only another buckle attempt will tell!
For now we’ll just talk about Food52. I was thrilled to have another chance at using my leftover whey to replace the buttermilk. My only beef with the recipe is that I think it would be best to beat the egg, sugar and vanilla with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. This just has you using a whisk. I still ended up with a pretty great cake so who knows. I mixed in a bunch of different fruit because I was low on blueberries. No complaints on that end.
• 3/4 cup roasted hazelnuts (you can use any other nut, but why would you?)
• 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly ground)
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1. Pulse hazelnuts in food processor until no large pieces remain. About 8 to 10 long pulses.
2. Add the brown sugar, flour, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Pulse several times to combine.
3. Add the butter, and pulse until incorporated, and the mixture looks damp and clumpy. About 8 to 10 pulses. Set aside until ready to sprinkle on the buckle.
Berry Buckle Batter
• 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 large egg, cold
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature
• 2 level to slightly less than level pints of berries — translation: it’s okay to snack on a few! (blueberries, blackberries, boysenberries, huckleberries, marianberries, raspberries, etc..)
1. Preheat oven to 350º F with a rack in the lower middle position. Butter and flour a 2-inch deep 9-inch square, 10-inch round, or 11- by 7-inch rectangular pan. Set aside.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk until well mixed, about 15 seconds.
3. Place butter in a glass bowl or 4-cup glass measure. Microwave for 25 to 35 seconds, until about half melted. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla to the bowl, then whisk until combined and mixture looks slightly fluffy. Gradually beat in the buttermilk (or whey!).
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir just until the batter is smooth. Gently fold in the berries (some of the aggregate-style will break and discolor the batter, but it will come out fine in the end).
5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, spreading it evenly. Sprinkle with the streusel topping in an even layer. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The top will be golden brown, and a toothpick inserted near the center won’t have any batter clinging to it (though it may have berry juice or streusel on it).
6. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. No one will complain if you add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream, but it’s also good enough to eat plain.
When, a few months ago, P and I saw a Gilt City deal for an Urban Oyster food tour in Cobble Hill it was a no-brainer. $33 for a three hour tour and tastings? Yes please!
This past Saturday was the day and I think we both agree that it was well worth the money and the time in the heat. (The tours normally start at $60 so we had a good deal to say the least.)
I was a bit wary at the beginning – the tour started at Stinky Bklyn and the second stop was 61 local – both being places I had been before, several times. I mean, despite that, I love both of those places and am not going to turn my nose up at a pimento cheese sandwich nor will I at some spicy pickles.
The tour progressed quickly and we delved deeper into the neighborhood and down streets where I have yet to venture. It was great! The tour tied together a lot of places, which showed the immense community support that all of the local businesses give each other.
To just name a few things….61 local gets their olives from Sahadi’s. If you order from D’Amico online, they will package up sweets from Court Street bakery and ship it to you.
The stops also included Damascus bakery, One Girl cookies, Court Pastry Shop, D’amico foods (which has it’s own coffee roaster) and the Brooklyn Pharmacy & Soda Fountain. The tour was also peppered with short stops in the shade and little tidbits about the neighborhood and New York in general.
My most favorite stop, by far was the Court Street Bakery and D’amico foods. They were the longest standing in the neighborhood and I am still dreaming about those lemon drop cookies from the bakery.
While it seems a bit touristy to do a food tour in a neighborhood you live right next door too, it was really a great experience and gave me a chance to go into several places that have been on my ‘list’ for quite sometime. Overall, highly recommended!
I’m about three weeks too late in talking about Puerto Rico but better late than never right? It was my first trip in awhile where the complete focus wasn’t on eating and I’m shocked to say, I had a great time!
No, not really that shocked. I knew the trip would be great, we had fun things planned, and we actually did them and enjoyed each other’s company in the mean time. If you’ve never been the to Puerto Rico outside of San Juan, I highly recommend it.
The beau and I flew into Aguadilla and drove down to Rincon. We spent two days into Rincon checking out the beaches, snorkeling and cooking dinner at the beachside grill our hotel provided.
We had a great meal at La Copa Llena at the Black Eagle. It was right on the water and the food was incredibly fresh and well prepared.
After Rincon we drove to Luquillo so we could eat at the food kiosks and we could go to the El Yunque rainforest. The kiosks were not what we imagined. Well yes, some of them fulfilled the cheap, fried food and under hot lamps experience. But mostly we just thought it was a big strip mall of restaurants. We enjoyed the sit down places the most, getting hot fresh mofongo and margaritas (that could have used a little work).
You can read more about the kiosks here. Our hotel was able to recommend a few of the better stalls and we were happy to take her recommendations. Beyond hungry, hot, sunburned and in front of 50 food stalls is not a place you want to be.
The plan was to spend the final day in San Juan but, we had to back track a bit when the Camuy Cave tour we wanted wasn’t available until that final day. So, our last day, we got up a 4AM and drove to San Juan for a 5:45AM pickup for another 1 ½ hr drive to the caves. GAH.
I was not a happy camper and after I pushed my crankiness away, it was replaced with terror after I learned I would be not only zip lining but also repelling and jumping into caves. If you have read at least one other post on this blog, I think it’s safe to say you can see that I’m not really this type of girl. But I’ll try anything once and so I did.
Looking back on it now, I think I could have dealt without climbing over the rock covered in cockroaches and the water that I think is STILL in my ear. But overall, I’m glad it’s an experience I’m glad I had and I’m happy we didn’t do the typical tour. I can say, if you want to get over some other sillier fears in life, this is definitely the thing to do. You can read my review on the cave tour here.
Have you ever been? Let me know how your trip went!