A Sweet Reminder

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A quick post about a quick stop I made in Brooklyn’s Little Odessa at Malyutka Bakery & Café, 231 Brighton Beach Ave, a new addition to the scene after a few neighboring bakeries got shuffled around.

Somewhere between a cookie and a scone, it hit the spot as I was checking out venues for my forthcoming ethnojunket along Brighton Beach Avenue on Saturday, October 20. Want to taste delicious Russian and Former Soviet Union food like this? Maybe we’ll even find a bench along the boardwalk and do a mini-picnic, weather permitting. Join me on the adventure! For more information and to sign up, click here. Hope to see you then!
 
 

Purple Dough – Ube Leche Flan

Instagram Post 10/3/2018

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Another purple treat from Purple Dough, 38-05 69th St in Woodside, Queens. This time, the new bakery presents ube leche flan – dense flan lounging atop ube (purple yam) cake. Surprisingly, this beautiful dessert isn’t overly sweet, so a dollop of whipped cream wouldn’t hurt if you want to dress it up a little – if you can wait to get it home!
 
 

Pecel Ndeso’s Indonesian Kue

Instagram Post 9/29/2018

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Here’s the first in a series from another visit to the monthly NY Indonesian Food Bazaar at St. James Episcopal Church, 84-07 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens. These are kue (diminutive Indonesian sweets/snacks) from Pecel Ndeso’s booth; the disk-shaped twosome are serabi solo. There are many regional variants on serabi; most are made with rice flour but some use wheat flour, and most call for coconut milk. Green almost always implies pandan flavor, while brown indicates palm sugar. The cutaway view reveals the puffy, airy interior.

One of my all-time favorite snacks is anything that involves sticky rice pressed and sweetened with coconut milk. The Indonesian fulfillment of this wish is wajik, which I posted about on 8/16. Usually diamond-shaped (wajik is the Indonesian word that describes a diamond or rhombus shape), this sweet, green blocky rendition is infused with pandan and contains bits of jackfruit, another weakness of mine.

More to come from the bazaar….
 
 

Snowy and Icy Mooncakes

Instagram Post 9/24/2018

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Today’s the day! In addition to the traditional mooncakes that abound in almost every Chinatown bakery for Mid-Autumn Festival, you might see these trendy versions that hail from Hong Kong. Think mooncake meets mochi: rather than dough-based and baked, the skins are almost like the sweet Japanese glutinous rice cake, but not quite as chewy. These snowy and icy mooncakes must be kept chilled. Here are four of the many delicious varieties.

The snowy flavors are contemporary: strawberry, mango, orange, pineapple, honeydew, peach, peanut, taro, chestnut, green tea and red bean; one version featured durian flavored sweet bean paste with bits of the fruit, enveloped by a skin of almost almond paste texture and flavor. Icy mooncakes come two to a box with imaginative flavors like pandan bean paste with chocolate pearls (tiny crispy, candy bits, crunchy like malted milk balls, but probably puffed rice), dark chocolate bean paste (the skin is like mochi with chocolatey paste on the inside and a piece of dark chocolate or a bit of cream cheese nestled within), durian, mango, blueberry, custard, chestnut, black sesame, strawberry, and cherry.

To learn more about the holiday and these delicious treats, please check out my Chinese Mooncakes Demystified post.

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! 中秋节快乐!
 
 

Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival – 2018

Instagram Post 9/21/2018

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A visit to any Chinatown bakery this time of year will reveal a spectacular assemblage of mooncakes (月餅, yue bing) in a seemingly infinite variety of shapes, sizes, ornamentation, and fillings, all begging to be enjoyed in observance of the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated this year on September 24th. Here are two pandan mooncakes, one with preserved egg yolk and a mini version without, from Fay Da Bakery at 83 Mott Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown.

To learn more about the holiday and these delicious treats, please check out my Chinese Mooncakes Demystified post detailing their similarities and differences in an attempt to shed some light (moonlight, of course) on their intricacies.
中秋节快乐!
 
 

Purple Dough – Cookies

Instagram Post 9/18/2018

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Purple Dough is the name, but green dough is in evidence as well. Located at 38-05 69th St in Woodside, Queens, this new bakery has a Filipino perspective on creative custom baked goods. Shown here are ube and coconut-pandan cookies: soft, chewy and sweet, they were the most modest items in the case and were absolutely delicious.
 
 

Vietnamese Pandan Cake

Instagram Post 9/14/2018

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In addition to the assortment of bánh mì you’d expect, Paris Sandwiches at 213 Grand St in Manhattan’s Chinatown sells a modest selection of components for DIY construction so you can roll your own, as it were, including freshly made baguettes, pickled daikon-carrot salad, and a few Vietnamese processed meats. They also carry an assortment of grab-n-go items such as spring rolls, desserts and the like, and baked goods like this Vietnamese Pandan Cake, Bánh Bò Nướng, sometimes called Honeycomb Cake. Its characteristic texture is the key to its appeal; very much like Indonesian martabak manis but not confection filled, this light, sweet treat is a little spongy, a little chewy, and sort of like a crumpet that went missing somewhere in Southeast Asia.
 
 

Taiwanese Pineapple Shortbread

Instagram Post 9/7/2018

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Taiwan has a long-standing association with pineapples. In the early twentieth century, it was the world’s third largest exporter and because of the fruit’s surfeit, its supplementary role in baked goods became popular. Still a significant part of the economy, there’s even an annual Taipei Pineapple Cake Cultural Festival.

I recently learned that these little gems are available in Manhattan’s Chinatown at Audrey Bakery, 12 Chatham Square. The three characters along the left side of the package read “pineapple shortbread” and it’s delicate and delectable. There are packaged versions of similar fruit filled shortbread cookies easily found in just about every Chinatown market, but these treasures are a world apart.
 
 

Indonesian Independence Day Celebration

Instagram Post 8/16/2018

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Indonesian Independence Day is August 17 and you can catch the local celebration (Bazaar Kemerdekaan) Saturday the 18th on Whitney Avenue near Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens (11am-5pm). There’ll be fun and entertaining cultural activities and, of course, an assortment of delicious authentic food. I’ve posted numerous photos of Indonesian dishes lately, but not many desserts, and the cuisine has plenty of them to satisfy your sweet tooth. Three of my favorites from Masjid al-Hikmah’s approximately monthly bazaar (48-01 31st Ave, next scheduled event to be announced) are…

[1] Martabak Manis. The pancake has a radically different texture than savory martabak, more like a soft crumpet, actually. It’s folded around chocolate, peanuts, grated fresh cheese, coconut and sweetened condensed milk.
[2] Kue Singkong. These dense cassava cakes can be found steamed or baked in fanciful shapes and sizes. This one, sprinkled with coconut, obviates the need to decide between plain and chocolate.
[3] Wajik. This kue (bite-sized sweet snack) is made from glutinous sticky rice, palm sugar and coconut milk; it’s usually diamond-shaped (wajik is the Indonesian word that describes a diamond or rhombus shape). So good!
 
 

Little House Cafe – Pandan Cake

Instagram Post 8/8/2018

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Pandan cake (not the multi-layered cake) from the grab-n-go prepared food area near the register at Little House Café, 90-19 Corona Ave in Elmhurst, Queens. What you see is what you get. It’s pandan. It’s cake. What’s not to like? 😋

(Now that I think about it, a scoop of Chinatown Ice Cream Factory’s pandan flavor 🍨 would be perfect with this. More shopping to do!)