Category Archives: Product Spotlight

We Have a “First Prize Pies” Cookbook Giveaway Winner!!!

First Prize Pies bookFirst Prize Pies

Congratulations to Kristen whom the Randomizer selected as the winner for this prize!!! A big “Thank You” to everyone who entered this giveaway! Thank you, too, to Allison Kave and her publishers at for providing me with this cookbook and for allowing me to offer it to one of my readers in this giveaway.

S'mores pieS’mores Pie – well, the tail end of it, anyway

There was no clear winner in the pie selection.  Actually, the entries this time were really limited, which was surprising, as I had hoped that more pie fans were out there.  If you do get a chance, however, I’d recommend stopping by Smorgasburg to try Allison’s pies in person.  Also, fingers crossed, they’ll be bringing back the Pie Shake this season.  Yes, that is a cross between pie and milkshakes, and it is truly indulgent!

Buon appetito!

First Prize Pies Cookbook Giveaway

First Prize Pies - a bit of S'mores PieA bite of S’mores Pie from the Paper Magazine Pop-up

Happy Pi(e) Day!!!  As the child of an actuary (who was a math major in college and who got a perfect score on his math SATs way back in the day), Pi(e) Day was mentioned in our household long before it became a sort of national food holiday.  I’m a huge, huge fan of pie, more so than of cake.  There, I said it.  One of my favorite local NYC pie bakers is Allison Kave of First Prize Pies.  Her cookbook release party was this week, and, so, in honor of that and of today’s special celebration, I’m giving away a signed copy of her book: First Prize Pies – Shoo-Fly, Candy Apple & Other Deliciously Inventive Pies for Every Week of the Year (And More).

Bourbon Ginger Pecan PieBourbon Ginger Pecan Pie

The photo above is from the cookbook launch party on Tuesday evening, where there were samples of this pie and of the S’mores Pie for which Allison is also well-known.  The Bourbon Ginger Pecan Pie is the pie that really started it all, when it won the top prize at the 1st Annual Brooklyn Pie Bake-Off.  This win, along with the encouragement of her boyfriend, helped inspire her to start her business.  NYC-ers have been thanking her for doing this ever since, wiping the pie crust crumbs from their mouths as they utter their gratitude between umm-ing and ahh-ing over the deliciousness of her creations.  The cookbook contains recipes for her pies as well as helpful tips on how to make and work with different types of crusts, which always seem to daunt folks who shy away from making dough by hand in their home kitchens.

First Prize Pies - Allison KaveAllison Kave of First Prize Pies

I have one copy of First Prize Pies – Shoo-Fly, Candy Apple & Other Deliciously Inventive Pies for Every Week of the Year (And More), signed by Allison herself at her cookbook launch party, to give away on this website.  To try her pies, you can swing by Smorgasburg on the weekends (check website for times and locations).  In addition, keep your social media streams on alert and ears open for when she and Keavy Blueher of Kumquat Cupcakery announce that they’ve signed the lease on their new dessert and cocktail venue Butter & Scotch.  Those two are a sweets-lovers dream team.

First Prize Pies cookbookSigned cookbook to give away

The Giveaway Rules (There have to be some of these, you know.)

Eligibility: U.S. mainland residents only

To Enter: Write a comment on this post with the answer to the following question: What is your flavor of pie?

You must also have a valid screen name (NOT “Anonymous”) with a corresponding email address to enter this giveaway. I’ll need to be able to click on it in order to contact the winner. If you list “Anonymous” or do not have a valid email address with your comment, you will be disqualified. I do not share these addresses with anyone, and they are only for the purpose of entering this giveaway.

Deadline: Is Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 12:00 p.m. DST, based upon the date/time stamp on the comments. (I’m going to be very strict about this and make no exceptions.

The Outcome: Only one winner will be chosen for this cookbook giveaway. I’m going to put all the entries into an online Randomizer (like this one) to come up with the winner.

Buon appetito!

“Make Your Own Soda” Cookbook Giveaway

Anton making sodas at book signingAnton Nocito mixing sodas at his book release

One of the great things about the local NYC food scene that’s blossomed over the past several years, is seeing the growth of many talented individuals and their businesses.  One of these that has kept me hydrated and refreshed during my market excursions is P&H Soda Co., owned by Anton Nocito.  His seasonally-inspired syrups, which he turns into sodas at New Amsterdam Market and other venues, are some of my favorites in the city.

Anton making sodasAnton whipping up sodas

Growing up, soda was a special treat for me and my siblings, so I really savored every one that I was allowed to have.  Anton’s creations are wonderful and unique with flavors that would not have been among the selections that I was given as a child.  His Sarsaparilla made me re-think my dislike of root beer.  Hibiscus has become my new favorite flavor, not just in soda form, but also in Dough’s terrific donuts, so I thank him for opening up my mind and my tastebuds to it.  He’s even worked out a way to make a Candy Cap Mushroom and Toasted Almond Egg Cream.  It’s really delicious, believe me!

P&H Soda book“Make Your Own Soda” by Anton Nocito

I have one copy of his soda- and syrup-making cookbook, released earlier this summer, to give away on this website.  You can also read an interview I did with Anton here.  If you are in the NYC area, you can drop by the New Amsterdam Market this coming Sunday, as well, to sample his sodas for yourself and to become an instant fan.

The Giveaway Rules (There have to be some of these, you know.)

Eligibility: U.S. mainland residents only

To Enter: Write a comment on this post with the answer to the following question: What is your favorite flavor soda?

You must also have a valid screen name (NOT “Anonymous”) with a corresponding email address to enter this giveaway. I’ll need to be able to click on it in order to contact the winner. If you list “Anonymous” or do not have a valid email address with your comment, you will be disqualified. I do not share these addresses with anyone, and they are only for the purpose of entering this giveaway.

Deadline: Is Monday, September 30, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. EDT, based upon the date/time stamp on the comments. (I’m going to be very strict about this and make no exceptions.)

The Outcome: Only one winner will be chosen for this cookbook giveaway. I’m going to put all the entries into an online Randomizer (like this one) to come up with the winner.

Buon appetito!

Preview of Cook Out NYC with Kimchi-Making Demo by Mama O’s Premium Kimchee

Have you been out to Governors Island yet this year?  If not, here’s another terrific reason to plan a day out of the city (sort of) to check out this bucolic spot just a short ferry ride away from Manhattan and Brooklyn.  Cook Out NYC will be taking place July 7-8 from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  This event will feature delicious dishes prepared by fantastic local chefs, refreshing brews by Sixpoint Brewery, and for all you kimchi lovers, a Spicy Kimchi Eating Contest to be held on Saturday.  I’m pleased to be able to offer you a $5.00 discount on tickets to this event, courtesy the sponsors.  Enter the code “BlogOutNYC” at check-out.

Kheedim Oh of Mama O’s Premium Kimchee

As part of the press launch for this event, several fellow bloggers, local media folks, and I gathered at Jimmy’s No. 43 last night for a kimchi making demonstration by Kheedim Oh, the founder of Mama O’s Premium Kimchee. Both Jimmy and Kheedim met when they each had stands at the New Amsterdam Market.  Kheedim started off by explaining the origins of his four-year-old company.  After relocating from Maryland, he missed his mother’s kimchi and hadn’t been able to find any store-bought version that stacked up to her homemade one.  After convincing her to teach him how to make it, he would travel to and from New York with coolers full of it.

Ingredients for Kimchi

Not able to eat all of it himself, he offered it to friends who told him that he should be selling it.  A butcher in his Lower East Side neighborhood fell in love with it and started to carry it.  Things grew from there, and now his product can be found in many Whole Foods stores in the region as well as at Murray’s Cheese Shop and other specialty food retailers.  He said he goes through about 500 pounds of cabbage a week making kimchi.  He treated us to a brief explanation of how it all comes together:

Explaining how to prep the cabbage for brining – slice it lengthwise

After 24 hours – unbrined (left) vs. brined (right) cabbage

Making the spicy paste – pounding garlic by hand (he did most of this by machine)

Making the spicy paste – slicing ginger

Making the spicy paste – pulverizing ginger

Making the spicy paste – juicing a few limes (with help from the audience)

Making the spicy paste – adding dried red pepper

Making the spicy paste – adding more dried red pepper

Making the spicy paste – oh, let’s just add a little bit more dried red pepper

Spicy Red Pepper Paste

Cutting up the brined cabbage (cut out the core at the bottom and discard it)

Slice a few scallions

Chop up a pile of cilantro

Give it all a good toss together

Guests were able to pack it up to take home with them

My own personal jar of kimchi, ready to go home

Thanks so much to Kheedim for his highly-entertaining demonstration of how to make kimchi.  I’m not sure I’m going to try doing this in my own kitchen, but I’m looking forward to tasting the results of last night’s event when they are ready.  Remember, Cook Out NYC will be taking place July 7-8 from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  There’s a $5.00 discount on tickets to this event when you enter the code “BlogOutNYC” at check-out.  I’ll be there as well, covering this event for my website courtesy of Food Karma Projects.

Buon appetito!

Schoolhouse Kitchen Closes Its Doors

Part of what I like so much about going out and exploring the New York City foodscape is that I have the opportunity to meet genuinely amazing and passionate people who have created fantastic edible products for us to enjoy.  So, it is a bit sad to share this news today.  About a couple of weeks ago, Wendy Smith, President of Schoolhouse Kitchen, announced that they would be closing down their business effective the end of May 2012.

Samples at New Amsterdam Market

This post, however, is not to mourn, but, rather to let you know that for fans of their products, supplies of their spreadable fruits, chutneys, and vinaigrettes are still available by ordering via Schoolhouse Kitchen’s website, through this Friday, May 18.  I haven’t been over to the Whole Foods stores in the city as yet to see if some of their products are still on hand there.  You might also look to the website to see what other stores have stocked them to see if they still have some on the shelves as well.  Once they are sold out, these delicious items are gone for good.

Thai-Inspired Chicken Skewers

I had developed a few Recipes for the Schoolhouse Kitchen website, as well as featured several items in Product Giveaways and the company in a Product Spotlight back in November of 2010.  These recipes are still available on line, as of this writing.  One of my all-time favorites is the Thai-Inspired Chicken Skewers, which are a perfect summertime dinner starting point.  Over the next few months, I’m going to try to adapt this recipe to see if I can create a similar dish now that her incredible Citrus Coconut Vinaigrette is in limited supply.  I wish Wendy and her family well.  It was a real pleasure getting to  know them and in meeting her mother Patsy at the Fancy Food Show last year.  I hope that all of their future endeavors bring them joy and happiness, and I look forward to our culinary paths meeting again.

Buon appetito!

Good-bye 2011, Hello 2012!

I don’t know about you, but for me 2011 just flew right by.  I felt like I’d barely gotten through stuffing my gullet with all the wonderful berries, stone fruit, and gorgeous green vegetables of summer when it was time to figure out what to make for Thanksgiving and come up with recipes for using sweet potatoes and pumpkin.  This year was a busy one as I launched a new site for The Experimental Gourmand with its own domain name and posted 148 times, a record.  Thirty-seven original recipes were added and 62 posts covered food events, including cook-offs, benefits, markets, and, yes, The Red Velvet Cake Debate (probably my favorite “debate” of the year).

Most popular giveaway => Memorial Day Cookout Pack

This was also a year in which I introduced Giveaways of artisan food products so that you, the readers, can also get your hands on some of the delicious items that might not have made it into your markets quite yet.  In fact, of the top ten most visited posts to the site for 2011, three of them were for giveaways.  This has also had the side benefit of letting me highlight the hard work that all of the people who make the food that we enjoy eating do to start their own businesses and to keep them going through thick and thin, snowstorms and sunshine.  I appreciate what goes into each and every delicious bite so profiling them is just a small way of saying “thanks.”

Most popular recipe => Thai Beef Noodle Stir-Fry

Recipes continue to be a fundamental part of the website and of my philosophy about exploring the food world around us.  I’m still striving to eat seasonally and mostly locally, using products found in local farmers’ markets, while re-interpreting the dishes I grew up with and adding a new ones based up my travels and culinary studies.  Hopefully, you find them useful as well in trying to do more cooking and home for your family, which I hear is still the number one concern of most people who follow food and recipe sites.

Most popular post in 2011 => Grub Street/Hester Street Fair from 2010

Another growing component of this website has been Food Events and Markets.  My most fond memories of the year involve meeting the people behind the products at the various food markets like Smorgasburg and New Amsterdam.  If you have never visited New Amsterdam Market down by the South Street Seaport, definitely add it to your usual weekend errand rotation or tourist stops when you are in town to sample some local and regional treasures.  Among the most delicious things I tasted, and there were many, the Duck Buns by Cathy Erway and the Duck Confit by Richard Pinto from the Duck Cook-off at Jimmy’s No. 43 still stick in my mind as among the tastiest.  Another mind-blowing creation I sampled in 2011 was the Sweet Mary Ice Cream by The Bent Spoon, who always seems to make one amazing flavor after another.

Most popular blogger event post => Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey

The past year has also brought with it some sadder moments, but ones which made me realize how wonderful a community the blogging one is.  When Jennifer Perillo lost her beloved husband suddenly this summer, fellow food bloggers rallied around, including me, and created one big, electronic hug for her by posting her husband’s favorite recipe: Peanut Butter Pie.  Participating in the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer this month helped me feel as though I was doing something to help my nephew fight the cancer with which he’d been diagnosed this past summer.

Paula Wolfert’s book at the Culinary Historians of New York

On the positive side, I was able to go to some inspiring and engaging lectures and conferences during the past year.  From Eat, Write, Retreat to the Fancy Food Show to The Chocolate Show, which I covered for another site for which I write Woman Around Town, I was able to interact with fellow food lovers discovering tastes and treats and making new friends.  I had a chance to cover the intersection of food and technology on the insightful and informative website Food+Tech Connect run by Danielle Gould and to explore some of the food apps at Eats + Apps that developers are hoping we’ll consult as we plan our meals.

Probably still my ideal New Year’s Day menu

These are all aspects that are moving our understanding of what we eat and influencing how we cook and consume it, which is also part of what I think makes the culinary world such a fascinating arena right now.  For 2012, I’m looking forward to learning more about our food future, celebrate its glorious history, and eat many more amazing items whether made by the dedicated artisans in our community or cobbled together in my own kitchen.

Buon capodanno e buon appetito!