Veal Dumplings

Remember when I went to Dnipro and bought a few goodies? Well, here are those veal dumplings. At $4.99 for a one pound baggie, they weren’t the cheapest dumplings I’ve ever had, but they were very veal-y and tasty. But veal isn’t cheap, and I’ve never seen veal dumplings before. These could be really good, or really bad.

They were really good – Albany John has demanded more and exerted remarkable self control by not eating them all in one go. We even got a couple of meals out of them by rationing them out. Almost like we were eating the recommended portion size.

I also liked the little hat shape of the dumplings. Compared to Chinese dumplings they were very tiny and cute.

There’s a good amount of meat in the dumplings too – it tasted primarily of veal, and seemed to be made up of mostly veal, too. The meat was very tender, meaty, well-flavored overall and the outside of the dough had just the right amount of chew to bring it all together.

As you can tell, we also had the meal of many nations that night. Some Latin American flavored beans, boiled potatoes, cauliflower, and buttered bread in addition to the veal dumplings.

Homemade Pappardelle & Ragu

I have been so busy lately! While I’m normally a stresser, I’ve taken on a really lax attitude lately. Somehow it’ll all get done, no worries.

So I took it easy and made some ragu. Making ragu is so long, and I relish the long cooking time, stirring, etc. It’s like making bread, only cooking.

Then I made Michael Chiarello’s pappardelle recipe. Well, only half of it because I was cooking for two, not 5. I just love wide pasta noodles. They feel so substantial and make me all sorts of happy.

I rolled the noodles out to a level 6 (very thin) and boiled them for about 2 minutes a go. You can see a lot of the semolina flour floating around in the water.
Part of me gets a real kick over the fact that I can make my own pasta (thanks to Papa Amherst’s pasta roller) and tomato sauce. I didn’t eat many italian foods growing up. My mom hates garlic, onion, tomatoes and non-velveeta cheese, so it really nixed the odds of eating italian food. We’d do the cheapie jarred pasta sauces and pizza, but that was about it.
My first taste of real, authentic Italian food was in Texas. In a very fancy restaurant known as The Olive Garden. I know. I KNOW. Chains are the devil and all that. But you know what? This was in Texas, not Albany. The Olive Garden helped expand my very limited experience with Italian food for the better so I have to give them kudos for that.

Lovely wide, thin eggy noodles. I made them very long, too.

I recently bought extra virgin olive oil. I don’t normally think the flavor difference is that discernable from regular olive oil, but maybe I got a good brand. It smelled so fresh. I think the flavor came through in the noodles. They tasted almost bright.

And then it was time to get saucy. What a comforting bowl of yum.
From Olive Garden to homemade. Not too shabby, eh?

Almond Joy Nutella Cake

I wanted to make a loaf cake/quick bread the other night, but as it would turn out, I don’t have any bread loaf pans. Um, whoops.

I remember breaking one, and I’ve been making free-form loaves of bread lately, so I guess it hadn’t really clicked. Crazy stuff. Luckily I found a bundt pant and doubled the baking soda called for to poof it up a little more. I think it turned out pretty well. No ill effects or anything.

It’s not too coconut-y, but I really don’t think something can ever contain too much coconut.

If you like nutella or other chocolate hazelnut combos, you’ll probably like this cake. I should have saved some for my landlady. She loves cake.

I just did an easy glaze once it cooled off and mixed in some toasted almonds and coconut. You probably don’t want to serve this as a breakfast quick bread. With the icing it fell into Dessert Land pretty quickly (marshmallow pillows). Oh, and I put chocolate syrup over it before the icing.

Almond Joy Nutella Cake

1 C milk
1 whole egg

1 t vanilla extract

1 t toffee/butterscotch extract

3 T chocolate syrup

1/2 C nutella

3/4 C brown sugar

3 C flour

2 T baking soda

1/4 C cocoa powder

1 C coconut flakes, toasted

Mix together all of the wet ingredients, then add in the dry ingredients.

Bake at 350 F for 50-55 minutes.

Bundt Cake Glaze / Icing

¼ C melted butter
2 C powdered sugar
2 T milk

½ t vanilla extract

Mix them all together. TA DA. You are done.

I added in some extra toasted almonds and coconut.


Here’s the garden so far. I spent Sunday puttering around in it. I was outside for about an hour before I put the new fencing in.

Last year my landlady got three little plastic white picket fences to corner off part of the front of Albany John’s garden.

While I am normally a black thumb, I’ve been having a moderate amount of success this year at growing some stuff. However, balance must be restored in the universe, and it seems like my achilles heel this year is a cat.

So I walled off the perimeter of the garden with some bamboo. I think these were placemats we got a long time ago, but they’re put to good use now (yeah, we keep stuff around for a while. Our landlord & lady are afraid that we might be on Hoarders or something in the future. I’d be afraid of that too if we didn’t eventually use the stuff.). I think the cat keeps entering from the right side of the garden since he killed off two of my other basil plants earlier this month. So I put those three little fences on the right side to hope to deter him. I was all out of barbed wire and razor blades.

Here is the right side. I don’t think it deterred him much, but at least he didn’t poop in the garden and kill off any more plants. I’m sure as hell not planting cat nip outside – I’m not as stupid as I look.

I initially had the basil on the right side, but then moved it over a bit. So there are 3 water melon plants growing there. I should probably pinch off one of the plants since some have two seedlings in them.

Then there are hot peppers kind of sort of surrounding the tomatoes and tomatillos. Hopefully it’ll ward off bugs. I’ve got my fingers crossed there’s no tomato blight in my soil again. Oh well, only a few plants any way. I forget what the thing circled with a question mark is. I’m pretty sure it’s a tomato or tomatillo. We’ll see once it starts growing if that cat doesn’t get do it.

I also tried to do a front border of flowers. I probably overcrowded the garden but oh well.

The carrots are growing, I think. There are little green tufts in that area (the cat also played around in that area the night after I planted them, so they are no longer in neat rows and more bunched)

The chives Albany John planted last year have dispersed themselves nicely throughout our lawn and the neighbor’s lawn. You can see them encroaching on my sugar snap peas from the other side of the fence.

I’m glad to see the lettuces growing. A “Bon Vivant” mix on the top row and green lettuce on the bottom row (I think). French breakfast radishes on the very bottom, which are really thriving in the cooler wet weather.

I also started some sorrel inside. I was hoping it was the flowering sorrel, but it’s just the bitter lettuce kind. Either way, it’ll be a nice addition to the greens. They are not such big fans of the wet weather.

I’m hoping the lettuce greens will pop out and I can use the soil later on in the summer to plant some Chinese veggies. I got gai lan and pai tsai at the Asian Food Market (Colvin Ave), which like warmer weather. Like, 65F is a minimum for them.

And some tubs at the end. I got a wildflower mix from Dollar Tree. I figured it couldn’t hurt to give them a try. So far the green parts are growing, but no flowers.

I don’t know if some seeds blew over into the left tub (I’m not the most careful gardener), but I also chucked in some columbine and snapdragon. I probably overcrowded those too, but it’s my first year and I’m just happy they were growing to begin with. I’ll work more on success and planning next year, right now I’m psyched to see any green. These don’t seem to like the wetter weather we are experiencing either.

So that’s where we’re at right now. I just have to keep the cat from using the garden as his Rolls Royce of litter boxes.

Happy Birthday S!

I got invited to a certain photo-happy dude‘s birthday. It was filled with tons of tasty foods and awesome people.

The tart above was not only topped with fresh fruit, but had an insanely rich chocolate peanut butter base.

And someone even made him a TRON cake. (It was carrot cake. If that’s the case, I’d have been at that grid with a pickaxe)

Tons of snacky things!

I didn’t get pictures of the other cakes (yes, cakes – S doesn’t mess around when it comes to dessert), but OH MY GOSH SO GOOD.
Happy Birthday, S!

Snowman – Coffee FroYo

Snowman Ice Cream in Troy, NY is a nice little ice cream stand with tons of flavors and combinations.

They make most of their product themselves, which is impressive given their small size.

They also take Visa and Mastercard. I’ve never seen an ice cream stand take cards!

Medium coffee frozen yogurt ($2.75). Good fro-yo! This was close to a pint! Haha, it was a lot of fro-yo, but somehow I managed to eat it. Go with their smalls in general – they are plenty plentiful. Albany John likes their black raspberry fro-yo.

If you’ve ever been to Snowman you know the lines can get crazy at night. It’s better to go before 6:30 pm. After that the lines get really long. But it’s still worth a wait. It usually goes quickly, but this one time I was only behind about 3 people and every single one of them ordered about five sundaes or other labor-intensive desserts and it felt like it took forever and a day when you just want a small soft serve or fro-yo and the line of 7 kids with bikes and four adults, plus a baseball team is going faster than yours.

I’m also partial to their Only 8 flavors of fat free ice cream. It tastes like Tasty D-Lite. Good stuff in a fakey way (you won’t confuse it with their awesome regular soft serve, but it is really good), if that makes sense. Their regular hard and soft ice creams are also quite tasty, and you’ll be set for under $3.
I haven’t tried any sundaes, etc, because their ice cream is good enough for me. Maybe if you guys really want to know, I’ll give it a look see – but only to benefit other people. Not myself or anything.

There’s also a bike path just up the hill from Snowman. It’s a nice trail to ride if you’re looking for a leisurely afternoon of biking and ice cream, and Peebles Island State Park is also nearby.

Breaking News: Lee’s Market To Close

Lee’s Market, the one of Central Ave’s long standing Asian markets, is closing their doors. I noticed the bright orange sign taped to their door that said “Closing Sale”

I suspect this is from the competition from the newer Asian Supermarket across the street. They do not plan on re-opening. Lee’s is closing for good.

The shelves are a bit empty, with things ranging from 20-30% off. Some of the frozen food looks like it’s been around for a while. I’m guessing customers weren’t buying as often as they were before the Asian Supermarket opened up, so they had extra stock sitting around getting freezer burn.

Everything left is either frozen or shelf-stable. Oddly enough, they didn’t seem sad. Man, even when they’re closing Lee’s keeps an upbeat attitude.


Let’s get a big drum roll going for the winner of our Calphalon 3 Qt Ceramic pot…


Hooray! Cue the bells, release the confetti!! I’ll be sending an email to the address you used to comment.
There were so many great comments I just had to use a random number generator (even though Dan was playing dirty – you are bad, mister!)

Lone Habanero

I went to Save-A-Lot for habanero peppers. There was one lonely habanero waiting in the case.

Not wanting him to be lonely, I took him home for exactly 40 cents.

I went back later. There were many more habaneros.

They are hot, but not unbearable. Not sure if it’s their quality, or my own perception of a habanero. I thought they were supposed to be fiery devils.

Mother’s Day at Ala Shanghai

Ala Shanghai in Latham, NY (468 Troy-Schenectady Rd, Latham, NY 12110) will be featuring several Mother’s Day specials. Specials range from multi-course meals for four or six people, and priced at $68 and $98 respectively.

They all sound great, and even if you aren’t celebrating Mother’s Day it wouldn’t be too bad of an idea to get together with some friends and order up.

Call 518-783-8188 for reservations.

Dinner Special for 4 People – $68
1. Three Cold Appetizer Combo
2. Sauteed Shrimp Shanghai Style
3. Fish Filet with Sweet & Sour Sauce
4. Tong-Po Pork
5. Salty Veggie with Fava Bean
6. West Lake beef Soup
7. Sweet Eight Jewel Rice

Dinner Special for 4 People – $68
1. Dim Sum Combo (Steamed Pork Soup Dumpling, Pan Fried Pork Dumpling, Scallion Pancake)
2. Chicken Corn Soup
3. Happy Together (Scallip, Chicken, Prawn with Veggie in White Sauce)
4. General Tso’s Chicken
5. Sliced Beef with String Bean
6. Bok-Choy with Black Mushroom
7. Red Bean Pancake

Dinner Special for 6 People – $98
1. Four Cold Appetizers Combination
2. Sauteed Shrimp with Lily Bulb and Celery
3. Crispy Fried Fish with Seaweed
4. Emperor’s Tofu Soup
5. Sea Cucumber in Brown Sauce
6. Stewed Pork in Bean Sauce
7. Baby Bok-Choy with Crabmeat
8. Sweet Eight Jewel Rice
9. Tiny Rice Ball in Sweet Soup

Dinner Special for 6 People – $98
1. Dim Sum Deluxe (Pork Soup Dumpling, Fried Wonton, Shrimp Dumpling, and Scallion Pancake)
2. Seafood Soup with Egg White
3. Happy Together
4. Squid with Salt and Pepper
5. Orange Flavor Chicken
6. Beef with Fried Tofu
7. Vegetarian’s Paradise
8. Red Bean Pancake
9. Ice Cream