Is it really already Monday? I definitely had a packed weekend, but that doesn’t mean that I’m ready for it to be over. Kramer and I had grand plans to stay in and rest up for our trip to Montauk on Saturday, but of course that didn’t end up happening. We went out with Morgan to Xixa in Williamsburg for a Mexican feast of sorts. There were chicken sopes with chopped liver, fish tacos with smoked trout and masa blinis, grilled carrots elote with honey butter and feta (my favorite), braised duck lettuce wraps, foie gras al pastor, and a few other things that I can’t remember. Who doesn’t love small plates? There was plenty of tequila to go around, too. We ended up at Night of Joy after that, then Zona Rosa to finish up the night with what we were all really craving: chips and guac. This all sounds super fun, but of course we are complete idiots because we weren’t home and in bed until at least 1 AM, and we had to be up at 6 AM to shower and pack, as Kramer’s dad and his girlfriend Jill were picking us up to head out to the Hamptons the next morning. Sigh. A shower fixes everything, though, and the promise of a giant diner breakfast and quiet car ride made everything seem alright. I was only able to be out at the beach for one day, but it was a great, albiet short, getaway and I will share photos later this week.
The photos that I am sharing today, however, are from last weekend. Kramer and I spend most of our time in Williamsburg and Bushwick, so in an effort to get out of our usual spots, we headed down to Carroll Gardens and Gowanus to see what these neighborhoods had to offer. Morgan joined us, and later our friend Danny. I had a great time. My idea of fun is obviously food-and-drink focused, which is exactly what we did. We started the morning at Shelsky’s Smoked Fish, where I was overwhelmed with choices, but eventually settled on herring mops, which are pickled fish stuffed with more pickled things and were absolutely delicious, alongside some fantastic lox and a garlic roll. Morgan’s whitefish salad was out of this world, too – I hadn’t ever had anything quite like it. After that, I directed us the completely wrong way for about 10 blocks, and when we finally realized it, we turned around and walked all the way back to almost where we had started to go to Dassara. I never asked to be followed! But people just naturally get in line. Well, Kramer and Morgan, that was your mistake. The food made up for it, I hope. We had fried chicken buns, followed by some incredible bacon, egg and cheese ramen, alongside some beer cocktails. Completely stuffed and unable to eat more (for the time being), we stopped by the Zombie Hut, which was dark and well air conditioned (and much appreciated). Maybe we had too many tiki drinks here. I’ll never say. The flaming punch bowl was a nice touch, though. Onward and upward, we headed to the Clover Club for mint juleps and shenanigans; weren’t those flowers on the table just begging to be made into a flower crown like Will Graham wears in the countless Hannibal memes I’m completely sure you’ve all seen and enjoyed? Well, that’s what we thought too. If you don’t know, don’t ask. When we realized it was close to dinner time and we were even closer to Pok Pok NY, a spot Kramer and I had been wanting to visit for a while, we knew it was fate and wandered over there for incredibly crispy wings, papaya salad, spicy pork neck, prawns and pork belly with rice noodles, broken crepe with mussels, pork belly and pork shoulder curry, and plenty of beers and sticky rice. Between the food, the drinks and the heat, we were fat, happy, and ready to go to sleep by around 9 PM, which I think was the best part of all.
After the feast described above, you really start to crave simple, wholesome foods without any pretense or out of this world ingredients. When I got home from the beach yesterday, I wanted to bake but I certainly didn’t want to have to leave my apartment to buy more ingredients. I went through what I had and settled on these muffins. I was originally going to do a plain cinnamon muffin, but the molasses sounded tempting and made these a perfectly not-too-sweet breakfast treat (one that I am currently enjoying as I write this). The molasses is dark and rich, while the cinnamon is aromatic and warming – absolutely perfect with a cup of fresh cold brew to dip pieces in. I added plain brown sugar and slivered almonds on top for some texture, and the crystallized brown sugar adds just the right amount of sweetness to these muffins, while also making the tops nice and crunchy. I don’t make muffins often enough, but Kramer always says “everyone loves muffins”. After making and eating one of these, I remember that he is right.
Herring roll mops with pickles and pickled onions, cucumber salad, and not pictured: lox and garlic rolls.
Unbelievably good whitefish salad.
Fried chicken buns at Dassara.
Bacon, egg and cheese ramen.
Punch bowls at Zombie Hut.
Flower crown a la Hannibal for Morgan.
Juleps at Clover Club.
Dinner at Pok Pok NY.
So, muffins – start by browning your butter.
Make your batter.
Assemble and bake!
- ½ cup unsalted butter, browned
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- ⅔ cup molasses
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- 2⅔ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- slivered or crushed almonds, for topping
- extra brown sugar, for topping
- First, brown your butter. Place it in a medium sized skillet and over medium heat, cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or so, until the butter has browned and has a nutty aroma (but be carefully not to burn it!). Remove the butter from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Beat together your brown sugar, eggs, molasses, and sour cream, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add in the browned butter and beat until combined. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and carefully add it to the butter mixture, scraping down the bowl until the batter is fully mixed but not over-beaten.
- Line or grease your muffin cups, then fill each up ⅔ full with the batter. Sprinkle the tops with a pinch of nuts and brown sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until just lightly browned and set. Allow the muffins to cool for 15-20 minutes before removing. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. These will keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.