Author Archives: Liz {E2 Bakes Brooklyn}

About Liz {E2 Bakes Brooklyn}

I'm a blogger, freelance baker, and recipe developer in South Brooklyn.

A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of Sorts

A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsIf you follow me on Instagram, you know what today is (mostly because I won’t shut up about it!). I’m headed to Maine, y’all! We are packed into a station wagon and headed north with big plans to do as little as possible.

After living in NYC for almost twelve years, I love getting out of town, but I know plenty of you can’t wait to visit this incredible city. Today, I’ve made a list of my favorite places in NYC (mostly Manhattan and Brooklyn), just in case you ever wanted to know what I love about this place and what we’d do if you came to visit me.A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of Sorts

Museums & Popular Attractions

A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsCooper Hewitt (Upper East Side)
Inside a beautiful old mansion on Fifth Avenue is this incredible museum dedicated to innovative design & sustainability. Nearly everything there is interactive in some way, and all of it can be “bookmarked” for further investigation by renting a special electronic pen at the front desk. I’d try to explain it, but I’m not that smart.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Upper East Side)
A NYC classic! Go for the permanent collection, or to see Camp before it closes. I’ve also been to the Met Breuer, which is located in the Whitney’s old space. Definitely worth a look.

The Frick Collection (Upper East Side)
Go for the art, go for the stunning mansion it’s housed in.

American Museum of Natural History (Upper West Side)
Another must-see! My beloved Hall of Gems & Minerals is closed, but there are dinosaur bones, a whale, a planetarium, and plenty more things to see.

The Brooklyn Museum (Crown Heights, Brooklyn)
This one is definitely worth the trip across the bridge! This is a beautiful building in a stunning Brooklyn setting, and has recently hosted exhibitions on David Bowie, Frida Kahlo, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Kehinde Wiley.A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of Sorts

One World Observatory (Financial District)
I don’t usually recommend paying a bunch of money to take an elevator, but the 360 view and the knowledge of the staff are well worth the cost of admission.

Beaches & Waterside Communities

A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsA New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsA New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsRed Hook Waterfront (Brooklyn)
Red Hook is probably my favorite neighborhood in Brooklyn. This waterside community has cute shops, excellent restaurants (looking at you, Hometown Barbecue), and an incredible waterfront park. It also happens to be home to the best grocery store in Brooklyn, if not all of NYC. This neighborhood is not convenient to the subway; it’s accessible only by bus, car or ferry (or your own two feet), but it’s worth the minimal effort. I took my parents down there for a lobster roll and an ice cream cone a few weeks ago (more on those below), and I think they’d agree that it’s worth the trip.

Coney Island (Brooklyn)
This neighborhood is home to the famous Luna Park theme park, beach and boardwalk. My favorite thing to do down there is to catch a Brooklyn Cyclones baseball game.A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsA New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of Sorts

The Rockaways (Queens)
I’ll admit that I’m not much of a city beach person, but I finally made it out to The Rockaways earlier this summer to see what all the hype is about. I ate an arepa, walked the boardwalk, and got my toes in the surf—no complaints. I highly recommend taking public transit (subway or ferry) to get out there. Don’t drive—parking is a nightmare.

Restaurants

Sole Di Capri (TriBeCa)
This small Italian restaurant is one of my favorites in all of NYC. They have a regular menu, but their specials are plentiful and change constantly. I’ve never has anything that was less than spectacular. My only real recommendation is to get whatever salad has the house-made mozzarella on it. So, so good.

Hot Kitchen (East Village)
My friend, David, introduced me to this Sichuan restaurant and it’s seriously fantastic. Get the cumin lamb!A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsA New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsKatz’s Delicatessen and Russ & Daughters (both East Village)
These institutions don’t need my endorsement, but I’m just here to confirm that getting a Katz’s 1/2 pastrami sandwich + matzo ball soup and following it up with a Russ & Daughters raspberry hamantaschen is always a good idea.

Momosan (Midtown)
This is Masaharu Morimoto’s ramen bar. I went with my best friend, Emily, a few weeks ago and we both loved it! Get the tsukemen and the Peking duck tacos.

The Plaza Food Hall (Central Park South)
This is a high-end food court located immediately below the Plaza Hotel. There are many options and all of them are fantastic. Plus, you get to say fancy things like “I’m going to lunch at the Plaza.”

Capizzi (Theatre District/Times Square)
This pizzeria is located just below Times Square near Port Authority. If I am going to the theatre with company, this is almost always my pick. The pizza is good, as is the service, and I’ve never had a problem getting a table.

5 Napkin Burger (Restaurant Row/Times Square + 2 more)
Another theatre district favorite! This is a great place to get a burger, fries, a sundae, or all three (!) before or after a show. Their onion rings are truly something to behold.

Bar Tabac (Boerum Hill, Brooklyn)
French food in an adorable setting in a neighborhood that I lived in for seven years. Their lone drawback is that they only take cash and AmEx.A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of Sorts
Red Hook Lobster Pound (Red Hook, Brooklyn)
After you go check out the waterfront, stop for a lobster roll and a Maine Root root beer. The crispy brussels sprouts are great too.A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of Sorts
Ample Hills Creamery (Multiple Locations)
A super cute & creative local ice cream chain.

Broadway ShowsA New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsI’ve gone to a lot of Broadway shows this year and it has been a ball! You don’t need me to tell you to see Hamilton (but like, it lives up to the hype) or The Book of Mormon (also great—saw it twice), and you certainly didn’t ask for my theatre recs, but this is my blog and you’re getting them anyway.

Shows I *love* that are currently running: Hamilton, The Book of Mormon, Waitress, Dear Evan Hansen, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Shows I like that are currently running: Come From Away, Beetlejuice, Beautiful, The Lion King.

Shows on my list to see soon: Hadestown, Oklahoma!, The Prom (closes August 11th), Moulin Rouge.

How I get Reasonable Tickets
TodayTix is my go-to for tickets. They have Broadway, Off-Broadway, and specialty shows (looking at you, Golden Girls Live!) all at reasonable prices. Highly recommend!

For the really pricey shows (Hamilton, Hadestown, To Kill a Mockingbird) I like to use GameTime, which is an active marketplace. Prices drop as showtimes get nearer—still regretting not taking a pair of $61 front mezzanine tickets to Hadestown the week after the Tonys. Don’t be like me!

If you’re still at a loss, some shows have standing room tickets ($25-$40) available at the box office. Be prepared to stand for 2-3 hours.

Baseball
A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsI love baseball and try to make at least one game a year (ideally when the Texas Rangers play the New York Yankees). I use GameTime to get crazy reasonable seats—seriously love that app.

Favorite Stores

These are the places where I spend my money.

Specialty FoodA New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of Sorts
Zabar’s (Upper West Side)
A NYC institution! Go for the coffee and the babka, or grab a few things at the deli counter and go picnic in nearby Riverside Park.

Sahadi’s (Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn)
This Brooklyn favorite is where I buy all my coffee beans, dried fruit, and cheese. Everything is shockingly reasonable, the staff is sweet, and they make the best hummus, period. I also used to work as a cashier here, and can say that the Sahadi family treats all their employees with the utmost respect. Love that.

Vintage & AntiquesA New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsA New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsPippin Vintage (Chelsea)
My favorite store in NYC. Great vintage and antique clothes, furniture, and jewelry (fine and costume), all at reasonable prices. I’ve never brought anyone there who didn’t totally fall in love with it. If nothing else, go to see the store itself, which is a small house set back from the street. It’s only accessible through a hall of antique mirrors!

Yesterday’s News (Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn)
The best vintage and antiques in Brooklyn. I bought my dresser here, as well as countless unique gifts for all my favorite people.

Used Bookstores

Alabaster Bookshop (Union Square)
A hidden gem around the corner from the famous Strand Bookstore.

Mercer Street Books & Records (NoHo)
A great bookstore around the corner from the Angelika. It makes for a wonderful start or end to a movie date.

Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books (Greenwich Village)
A left-wing community bookstore with grouchy staff that I love.

Random Free (& Cheap) Things

NYC is full of free things to do. Here is a list of ideas, just off the top of my head:
A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsGo to the Brooklyn Flea. It costs nothing to browse.

Picnic in any park.A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of Sorts
A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsWalk the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and/or the Brooklyn Bridge.

Explore Green-Wood Cemetery. Seriously.
A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsGet some soft-serve from a Mister Softee truck.

The Union Square Greenmarket is a great place to spend some time (even if you don’t end up buying anything).A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsGo to the Balloon Saloon.

Tour Theodore Roosevelt’s birthplace.
A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsGo take pictures at the Oculus.

Check out the reading room at the central branch of the New York Public Library.

Go take a look at Grand Central Station.
A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsWalk into open churches.A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsTake advantage of summer street fairs.A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsAs you can see, there is literally no excuse to be bored here. That’s why I have to go to Maine.A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of Sorts

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Sweet Cherry Sugar Cookie Crumble

Sweet Cherry Sugar Cookie CrumbleCherry season is late this year, but it’s finally here. Thank goodness for that—otherwise, you might have to wait a year to make this Sweet Cherry Sugar Cookie Crumble. That would be a shame. I mean, who doesn’t need another quick & easy crowd-pleasing summer dessert in their repertoire?!Sweet Cherry Sugar Cookie CrumbleSweet Cherry Sugar Cookie Crumble is exactly what it sounds like: a layer of soft sweet cherry filling topped with a crispy sugar cookie crumb. Where crisps have oats and nuts to contrast with the fruit beneath, this crumble relies instead on a craggy layer of buttery topping. Some of the crumb mixture will sink into the fruit as it bakes and remain soft, too, so there are all sorts of great textural things happening.Sweet Cherry Sugar Cookie CrumbleThis is the sort of dessert that can be made in an hour start-to-finish and be served warm from the oven—no need for fussing over delicate pastry or waiting hours for molten filling to become cool enough to slice.Sweet Cherry Sugar Cookie CrumbleSweet Cherry Sugar Cookie CrumbleSweet Cherry Sugar Cookie CrumbleSweet Cherry Sugar Cookie CrumbleTo make this crumble, toss together a quick fresh cherry filling and tip it into a baking dish. Next up, stir together the sugar cookie crumble, which is just the crumb topping from my Double Funfetti Crumb Cake without the sprinkles.Sweet Cherry Sugar Cookie CrumbleScatter that over the top of the cherries and then bake the whole thing at 375F until the crumb is golden and the fruit is bubbling and tender. Let it cool about ten minutes before spooning the hot crumble into bowls and topping it with vanilla ice cream.Sweet Cherry Sugar Cookie CrumbleEat. Go for seconds. Repeat.Sweet Cherry Sugar Cookie Crumble

Sweet Cherry Sugar Cookie Crumble
makes 8-10 servings

Cherry Filling:
2 pounds fresh or frozen (thawed) sweet cherries, pitted
1/3-1/2 cup granulated sugar (depending on preference & sweetness of fruit)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

Sugar Cookie Crumble:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

For serving (optional):
vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish and set aside.

Make the cherry filling. In a medium mixing bowl, combine sweet cherries, sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg, salt, lemon juice, and almond extract. Toss together until combined. Transfer to baking dish and create an even layer. Set aside.

Make the sugar cookie crumble. In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add vanilla and melted butter and stir until dry ingredients are saturated and clumps form.

Use your fingers to evenly distribute crumble over the top of the cherry filling. Bake crumble 25-30 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling.

Let crumble cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. Top with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to four days. Warm before serving.Sweet Cherry Sugar Cookie CrumbleSweet Cherry Sugar Cookie CrumbleSweet Cherry Sugar Cookie Crumble

Caramelized Banana Milkshakes

Caramelized Banana MilkshakesThis post really couldn’t come at a better time: New York weather has officially crossed over into the “totally disgusting” zone. Blazing hot, humid AF—you get the picture. There will be no baking in my Brooklyn kitchen until Monday, at the very least.

I love my apartment—love it!—but its one major drawback is that the kitchen is both windowless and un-air-conditioned. There is no amount or configuration of tiny Costco tower fans that can counteract the all-consuming heat of a 350F oven on a sticky 99F NYC day. Believe me, I’ve tried them all.Caramelized Banana MilkshakesSo, let’s skip the oven this weekend and make milkshakes instead. Caramelized Banana Milkshakes, to be specific.Caramelized Banana MilkshakesCaramelized Banana MilkshakesCaramelized Banana MilkshakesSure, they require five minutes of stove time to caramelize the bananas, but that small amount of cooking will be totally worth it when you’re blitzing up frosty, brown sugar & banana milkshakes.Caramelized Banana MilkshakesWe’re talking pure banana flavor here, unencumbered by cinnamon or anything else. You may, of course, add a pinch of whatever you like, but don’t go too crazy. Simplicity is the name of the game.Caramelized Banana MilkshakesThis recipe is a breeze: three steps, four ingredients (six, if you count the recommended whipped cream and drizzle of caramel or butterscotch). The hardest part is waiting for the bananas to cool so that they don’t melt your ice cream. After that, it’s just a blitz in the blender and deciding which of your dwindling stash of paper straws you’re going to use today.

Oh, and parking yourself directly in front of your air conditioner until the heatwave is over, but you already knew that.Caramelized Banana Milkshakes

Caramelized Banana Milkshakes
makes about 2-3 small milkshakes

3 medium bananas, very ripe
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 pint (2 cups) vanilla ice cream

For Garnish (optional):
caramel or butterscotch sauce
whipped cream

Peel bananas and slice into 1-inch chunks.

Combine butter and brown sugar in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until butter is melted and pan is hot. Carefully add banana slices and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

Combine bananas and ice cream in a high-powered blender. Blitz until smooth. Pour into glasses and garnish with caramel/butterscotch sauce and/or whipped cream, if desired. Serve immediately.Caramelized Banana MilkshakesCaramelized Banana Milkshakes

Oreo-Peanut Butter Magic Bars

Oreo-Peanut Butter Magic BarsLet me take this moment to express gratitude for the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap. Did we need a remake of the 1961 classic? Probably not, but it’s enjoyable enough, and it introduced little 13 year-old me to one of the great duos—not Lindsay Lohan & Lindsay Lohan—peanut butter & Oreos!

I was already a big fan of peanut butter & chocolate (duh!), but Oreos were a game-changer. I’ve been finding ways to put them together ever since.Oreo-Peanut Butter Magic BarsBesides the obvious dipping of Oreos directly into peanut butter, I’ve paired the two in homemade peanut butter, cupcakes and blondies, and now Magic Bars!Oreo-Peanut Butter Magic BarsOreo-Peanut Butter Magic BarsOreo-Peanut Butter Magic BarsOreo-Peanut Butter Magic BarsThey have just four ingredients–Oreos, peanut butter, butter & sweetened condensed milk–and come together in less than 45 minutes. Oh, and they’re ridiculously easy and far more delicious than any baked good with four (!) ingredients should be.Oreo-Peanut Butter Magic BarsWe’re talking soft, chewy peanut butter filling and buttery Oreo crust here, people!Oreo-Peanut Butter Magic BarsThose are two of my very favorite things. One of the great duos, if you will.Oreo-Peanut Butter Magic Bars

Oreo-Peanut Butter Magic Bars
makes 1 8- or 9-inch pan, about 12-16 bars

36 chocolate sandwich cookies (like Oreos), divided
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup creamy-style peanut butter (not natural-style)

Preheat oven to 350F. Heavily grease a 9-inch square pan and line with parchment paper, leaving overhang on two sides. Grease again. Set aside.

Place 24 chocolate sandwich cookies the bowl of a food processor and process until pulverized. Add melted butter. Pulse until combined. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan. Press into an even layer. Bake for five minutes, until set. Set crust aside to cool while you prepare the filling.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter.

Drizzle sweetened condensed milk mixture over crust. Use a silicone spatula or the back of a spoon to carefully spread into an even layer.

Break or chop remaining 12 chocolate sandwich cookies into pieces and scatter over sweetened condensed milk mixture. Bake for 25 minutes, tenting pan with foil at the 15 minute mark. Bars are done when the center jiggles just slightly when the pan is jostled.

Let bars cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use overhang to remove bars from the pan to a cutting board. Peel off foil. Slice with a lightly-greased knife and serve.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.Oreo-Peanut Butter Magic BarsOreo-Peanut Butter Magic Bars

Butterscotch Sauce

Butterscotch SauceIt seems like every time I think a recipe is going to be a snap, it’s a total nightmare. Butterscotch Sauce is a classic example of this—I went into testing thinking this would be a one-and-done situation, but instead I made sauces that:

  • separated in seconds.
  • required a candy thermometer.
  • burned.
  • crystallized.
  • hardened immediately upon hitting ice cream.Butterscotch Sauce

Testing was a bummer, to say the least. I mean, all I really wanted was a blog recipe that would also allow me to have ice cream with buttery brown sugar sauce for lunch and call it work. Is that too much to ask?!Butterscotch SauceTurns out it’s not. I “fixed” my first five test batches by slapping a metaphorical culinary bandaid on each one (less butter, less complication, less time, less movement, more liquid), and this all led me back to a method I knew worked: the way I make the caramel for my caramel corn, which is literally the easiest molten sugar recipe of all time. Just put it all in a pot and leave it alone.Butterscotch SauceButterscotch SauceHere’s the gist of my Butterscotch Sauce recipe:

  • put dark brown sugar, butter, salt and heavy cream in a pot and don’t stir it.
  • bring it to a boil and don’t stir it.
  • cook it for five minutes and don’t stir it. Just don’t do it.
  • remove it from the heat, add some vanilla and…okay, stir it now.

That’s it. Wait a few minutes before spooning it over a scoop of ice cream so you don’t burn the roof of your mouth. Safety first.Butterscotch SauceThis sauce is thick and golden and best served piping hot, so that it will set softly on whatever delicious thing over which it’s been poured. It’s rich, buttery and has good hits of salt and vanilla to complement its brown sugar flavor. And it’s easy to make.Butterscotch SauceYou might even say it’s a snap.Butterscotch Sauce

Butterscotch Sauce
makes about 1 1/4 cups

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Without stirring or jostling, combine dark brown sugar, butter, salt, and heavy cream in a 4-quart pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Let boil 5 minutes. Do not stir. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.

Let cool 10 minutes before serving hot over ice cream. Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for at least a week.

The best way to reheat this sauce is by putting it in a pot over medium-low heat and stirring just until heated through. Butterscotch may also be warmed in 30 second intervals in the microwave, stirring between, until hot.

Butterscotch SauceButterscotch Sauce