MeMe’s Diner & this bangin’ Vietnamese Iced Coffee Cake

MeMe’s Diner.

(y’all, when I went to MeMe’s it was after a long, full day event and i was exhausted.

i totally forgot to take any photos and just scarfed my food down.

all photos of MeMe’s below from their website will be credited with photographers names.)

GOOD FOOD. GOOD DRINKS. GOOD PEOPLE ….   & GREAT CAKE!

MeMe’s is the diner you see on tv or in a movie, but rarely ever get in real life. It’s old school yet modern, the food is great but entirely unpretentious. And in a city where everyone is constantly trying too hard, MeMe’s does comfort and style in a seemingly effortless fashion. It’s utterly charming.

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(photo from an article in The Infatuation by Katherine Lewin)

Since it’s opening on November 29, 2017 MeMe’s has been a self declared queer space. An immediately beloved piece of the LGBTQ community in New York. Owned and run by Libby Willis & Bill Clark and largely staffed by members of the queer community, their values are made clear by the way their guests and employees are treated. It’s a welcoming and comfortable environment where you can sit down and feel right at home. Their approach to hospitality is one of inclusion, love and respect. Meme’s has specific policies that make it a safe and comfortable place for queer and trans diners. The staff is instructed to use gender-neutral language and not to second guess names on credit cards that don’t match their assumptions about a person based on the way they look. They recently hosted Queer Soup Night as well as their new “Family Meal” Queer Industry Night events.

photo by noah fecks
photo by Noah Fecks

Now on to the meal. Dinner starts with a dish of cheeseballs and a bottle of house made chili oil to drizzle over the top. I can’t say how much I adore this. It’s perfectly low brow (in the best possible way) and super tasty. I ordered the Buffalo Chicken Salad, Jeff got the Patty Melt with Crispy Potatoes… and of course I threw in a side of Mac & Cheese. The salad was awesome, the lettuce and veggies perfectly dressed, the chicken super crispy while still coated in a generous amount of buffalo sauce and big crumbles of blue cheese strewn about the top. I didn’t even get a bite of Jeff’s patty melt. I did devour the delicious velveeta style mac and cheese with crumbled potato chips on top that sent me flying back to my childhood with each bite. Everything was seasoned and executed well. The menu was inventive but old school. The servers were super friendly and helpful. The only problem was I was so full I couldn’t eat another bite of food and I’d been eyeing the Vietnamese Iced Coffee Cake from the minute we walked in the door. (It sits on the bar top under a glass cake dome. Well played MeMe’s, well played.) I ordered a slice to go and we hopped up to leave.

(As someone who’s worked as a server for a long time I must implore people to be considerate of the size of MeMe’s. It’s a small place. There’s probably people waiting to sit down. Please don’t linger once you’ve finished your food and drinks. Small restaurants need to turn tables to make money and stay in business. for real.)

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Buffalo Chicken Salad photo by Steve Viksjo

The next morning I woke up, made my coffee and sat down to eat my now Vietnamese Iced Coffee Breakfast* Cake. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. I will 100% be returning to MeMe’s soon…. but I live…. on Long Island. womp womp womppppp. So I decided I need this cake in my life more often than I can make it over to MeMe’s. (also…. i want to try all of their other desserts too!)

So two weeks later, here it is. My version of MeMe’s Vietnamese Iced Coffee Cake.

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VIETNAMESE ICED COFFEE CAKE

Chocolate Espresso Glaze:

3 tablespoons (45g) strong cold brew coffee

2 tablespoons (10g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon (5g) espresso powder

1 teaspoon (2g) ground cardamom

1 ½ ounces (42 g) chopped chocolate, the darker the better

¼ tsp kosher salt

¼ cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

In a small bowl, mix together cold brew coffee, cocoa powder, espresso powder, ground cardamom, salt and chopped chocolate. In a small sauce pan bring heavy cream and corn syrup to a boil. As soon as the cream boils, turn the heat off and pour over the chocolate mixture.  Let sit for a minute, then stir together until silky smooth. Let cool at room temperature. Store in fridge up to 3 weeks.

Coffee Cake:

1 ¼ cups (280g) neutral oil

½ cup (130 g) strong cold brew coffee

1 ¾ cups (375g) granulated sugar

4 eggs, separated

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 tablespoons (10g) espresso powder

1/2 teaspoon (1g) cardamom

2 ¼ (400g) cups cake flour

1 tablespoon (15g) baking powder

1 teaspoon (3g) salt

1 ½ cups (350g) sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare two 8 inch cake pans with non stick baking spray and parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, cold brew coffee, sugar, vanilla and egg yolks. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until very light and fluffy (Make sure the mixer bowl is very clean and there are no traces of oil or your egg whites will not get light and fluffy!). While egg whites are whipping, mix together dry and wet ingredients. Mix to combine. Fold the whipped egg whites into batter until no streaks remain. Fold sour cream into batter until evenly combined.

Divide batter evenly between pans. Bang on the countertop to release air bubbles. Bake for 30 minutes, or until tops of cakes are golden and bounce back slightly when pressed. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely before assembling.

Sweetened Condensed Milk Swiss Meringue Buttercream (what a mouthful!)

2/3 cup (170g) egg whites, from 5-6 large eggs

1 2/3 cup (310g) lightly toasted sugar

1 (4g) teaspoon diamond crystal kosher salt

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Scraped seeds from 1 vanilla bean

2 1/2 cups (5 sticks, 565g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

8 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

Bring 2 inches of water to a gentle simmer in a large, wide pot. Combine egg whites, sugar, salt, cream of tartar, and vanilla seeds in a bowl that will sit onto the top of the pot (be sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water!). Set over steaming water, stirring constantly with a spatula, until egg whites hold steady at 185°F. When the mixture reaches 185°F, transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment and whip on high for about 10 minutes. The end result should be a thick, glossy, stiff meringue.

While the mixer is running on medium speed, add butter a tablespoon at a time. Initially the meringue will deflate, maybe even look broken. DON’T PANIC! It’s okay. It probably doesn’t look like it but IT WILL BE OKAY. Keep adding the butter tablespoon by tablespoon and the buttercream will become thick and creamy. Once the buttercream has reached this stage, add the sweetened condensed milk and continue to whip on medium speed until fully incorporated.

ASSEMBLE YOUR CAKE!!!:

You’ll need an offset spatula and a rotating cake stand.

(or not. It’s just easier that way.)

Start off by making sure your cakes are level. Done? Great.  Put the first layer of your cake onto your cake stand and scoop about a ½ – 2/3 cup of your frosting on top. Spread the frosting out evenly, drizzle some of your chocolate espresso glaze over the top and then gently place the second layer on top. Frost the cake with remaining buttercream. Then using your spatula, make swirls of your espresso chocolate glaze all over the cake to give it that iced coffee look. Sprinkle the finished cake with espresso powder and dig in!

And if you’re in New York, go try MeMe’s and support a fantastic small business.

MeMe’s Diner is located at 657 Washington Ave in Brooklyn, New York. For more information, visit their website

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Bill Clark & Libby Willis photo by: Steve Viksjo

CHOCOLATE PROTEST CAKE

February 14, 2018

“TELL THEM I LOVE THEM SO MUCH”

I got home from work on Valentine’s Day at around 11:30pm. Maybe it was almost midnight. I was exhausted from making a million heart shaped cookies, waiting tables all night and just general adult life. I walked Buck around the block, changed into my coziest sweats and hit the sheets. Before saying goodnight to my beloved pup, I made a huge mistake…. I checked twitter.
My entire twitter feed was flooded with news about the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. I sat there, reading through screenshots of students desperately trying to reach their parents and siblings. A girl named Hannah texted her sister Kaitlyn to tell her what was happening during the attack and to ask her to call 911. She couldn’t get through on the phone to the authorities or their parents and so she plead with her sister, repeatedly saying “tell them I love them so much”. That was the first thing I read about the Parkland shooting and I sat in my bed sobbing for an hour.

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Reading those messages made me so sad, and so angry.

Feeling helpless and hopeless but wanting to do something, to say something; I turned to my kitchen. I baked a cake… and another… and another. And I put my feelings into them, and onto them. I will continue to have these conversations in any and every space that I can while also contacting my local representatives and demanding action be taken.

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I am so sad and so outraged that children have to live in this fear of attending school, that hundreds if not thousands of students texted their moms and dads to say goodbye that day.  That a place that should be safe, that should be about learning and community becomes a nightmare for so many. That parents are worried if their kid’s schools are safe, and if they should pull them out. I heard one woman on the radio the other talking about how she was thinking of pulling her child out of kindergarten because the classrooms walls are made of drywall and wouldn’t protect her child in the event of a mass shooting.

FUCK YOUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS

That day members of Congress bowed their heads in a moment of silence. They tweeted their thoughts and prayers as they have with every shooting before this one. It’s always the same. “Thoughts and Prayers” and in a few short weeks they move on, as if none of this ever happened. As if 50 people weren’t murdered in Orlando during the Pulse Nightclub shooting. As if 59 people weren’t murdered at a concert in Las Vegas last October. As if 20 six and seven year old children and 6 adults weren’t murdered in Sandy Hook . As if the shootings in Littleton, Colorado (December 31, 2017) or Corning, California (November 14, 2017 – 6 killed, 12 injured) and so many others never happened because they didn’t pick up enough steam in the media for people to really care.

17 people lost their lives in Parkland, Florida last week.

We cannot allow them to be forgotten this time. The politicians who’ve spent the last week offering their thoughts and prayers aren’t doing their jobs.

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Immediately following the attack, in an address to the nation, President Trump announced he would visit Parkland and work with the nation’s governors “to help secure our schools, and tackle the difficult issue of mental health.” He made no mention of guns.

We do need to talk about mental health. About physical health. About the lack of care that’s afforded to the average American. But that conversation is for another day. We will not stand by and allow the politicians in this country to obfuscate and distract from the need for gun control. Right now, we need to stop pointing fingers at the FBI, the communities which have been shattered, as sad as it is to say, the victims, who are being brutally attacked in the media. We need to stand together and demand action from our legislators.

GUN CONTROL NOW!

In Florida, you don’t need a license to own a firearm.

You don’t have to register firearms.

You can buy as many firearms as you want at a time.

Firearms dealers don’t need state licenses.

Assault weapons, .50 caliber rifles and large capacity magazines aren’t regulated.

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Thoughts and prayers. Talk of mental illness. The NRA pretending this isn’t a conversation about guns while they quietly pay off our congressmen and congresswomen and the president of the United States.
FUCK YOUR NRA BLOOD MONEY.

CHILDREN ARE DYING.

THIS IS ABOUT GUNS!

THIS IS ABOUT A NEED FOR GUN CONTROL AND GUN REGULATION.

This is about a culture of violence.

One asshole tries to blow up his shoe and we have to take our shoes off in airports for the rest of all time but hundreds of school shootings have occurred and no gun legislation reform.

The students that survived the shooting in Parkland last week are more than survivors, they are heroes. They have selflessly put their grief aside to help others. They are marching, they are protesting, they are giving speeches more eloquent than the man who currently resides in the oval office. They are demanding change for a better future and we all need to stand beside them. We all must say NEVER AGAIN.

We must remember the lives that have been stolen by guns.

Alyssa Alhadeff, 14

Martin Duque Anguiano, 14

Scott Beigel, 35

Nicholas Dworet, 17

Aaron Feis, 37

Jamie Guttenberg, 14

Chris Hixon, 49

Luke Hoyer, 15

Cara Loughran, 14

Gina Montalto, 14

Joaquin Oliver, 17

Alaina Petty, 14

Meadow Pollack, 18

Helena Ramsay, 17

Alex Schachter, 14

Carmen Schentrup, 16

Peter Wang, 15

A HUGE THANK TOU to Alfonso Calderon, Sarah Chadwick, Jaclyn Corin, Emma González, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, Delaney Tarr, Sofie Whitney, Alex Wind and every student who has been so brave so stand up and speak out for what is right. I was not nearly as badass as y’all in high school.

What can the rest of us do to keep up with these amazing kids who are gonna take over the world and make it a better place?

USA.gov’s “How to Contact Elected Officials” page allows individuals to get in touch with federal, state, and other local leaders in order to address this hot button issue.

To make your voice heard, contact the Capitol switchboard at (202)-224-3121. Once you’re on the line, ask to be connected with your local representative in the House or Senate, and then you’ll be transferred to their office to likely speak with their legislative assistant. Make sure your message is clear to them that you want to see real action taken on gun control to prevent tragedies like this one from happening again. Remember to only contact representatives from within your state in order to be the most effective in your pursuit of stronger gun control measures.

Join groups like Everytown for Gun Safety, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, and The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. These organizations works to end gun violence and make communities safer by focusing on issues like background checks and gun trafficking.

You can get involved with the organization in your very own community by going to the website to find Everytown events near you. You can also donate to the Everytown cause, and you can educate yourself on some of the most important issues pertaining to gun control.

Join the MARCH FOR OUR LIVES on March 24, 2018

 

And if you’re having a bad day, if you’re real sad and feeling hopeless and lost, maybe you wanna bake a cake about it. It works for me.

 

Old fashioned Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake

3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

½ cup cocoa powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp espresso powder

1 tsp salt

2 cups cold water

1 cup vegetable oil

1 tbsp vanilla

1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

In large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Add sugar, cinnamon, and espresso powder and mix well to combine. Add water, vegetable oil and vanilla. Stir to combine, fold in chocolate chips. Pour into greased parchment lined pans. Tap pans on counter to release any air bubbles. Cook at 325* for 25 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.

 

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

170g egg whites, from 5 to 6 large eggs

310g granulated sugar

3g Diamond Crystal kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

565g unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla, almond or other extract.

 

Fill a wide pot with a few inches of water over high heat until steaming-hot, then adjust temperature to maintain a gentle simmer. Combine egg whites, sugar, salt, cream of tartar, in the heatproof bowl. Set over steaming water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water, stirring and scraping constantly until egg whites hold steady at 185°F. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip at high speed about 10 minutes, until meringue is glossy, stiff, and cool to the touch.

With mixer running on low, add butter, 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time. Initially, the volume of the meringue will decrease dramatically; it may even seem broken (don’t freak out), but as the cool butter is added, the mixture will begin to thicken and come together. In the end, buttercream should be thick, creamy, and soft. Mix in vanilla extract and almond extract (if using) on low speed until well combined.

Use buttercream right away, or transfer to a large zipper-lock bag, press out the air, and seal. Buttercream can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks and frozen for up to several months. Rewarm to 72°F and re-whip before using.

 

Decorate with all of your feels and anger and joy and confusion and just express your damn self.

 

xox,

The Bakery Lady

allow me to introduce myself

IMG_0019hey y’all!

i’m chelsea!

i’m also the bakery lady.

props to my partner’s grandma for the adorable nickname: when we first started dating she would always ask him, “how’s your bakery lady?”… and thus the nickname was born. now she often refers to me as tracy, but she’s 92 and a sweetheart, so let’s cut her some slack.

i’ve been meaning to start a blog for… uhm…. the past six years. eek. procrastination much?!?! well, yes and no. mostly i’ve been a big scared baby about putting myself and my thoughts and my recipes all over the interwebs for the whole world to see!  (and yes, I refer to the internet as the interwebs…. and it drives my partner crazy)

so here goes nothing…. but like really, everything.

first things first, i am obsessed with my dog buck . don’t get me wrong, this is a blog about food (my second greatest obsession) and travel (my third), (my partner jeff falls somewhere in between buck and food) but i want to warn everyone up front, there will be mentionvand adorable pictures of my best friend in the whole world, even if i have to throw some cupcakes in there to make it about food. he’s the best, and the handsomest.

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this is buck. isn’t he the handsomest?

so in order. buck. jeff. food, travel, social & political activism all tied in third place …..everything else. got it? great!

now back to our regularly scheduled programming…. FOOD. i love it, i can’t get enough of it. i literally only workout so that I can eat more food. run six miles and so i can eat a few doughnuts? YEPPPPPP.

 

sweet, sour, savory, spicy, gimme gimme gimme…. but only a little spicy please!

i’m a self-taught baker and cook who’s been working in the food industry for over a decade now. i started teaching myself to cook and bake after i moved to the middle of nowhere in upstate new york. there wasn’t always a whole lot going on… but there were like eight farms within 10 miles of my apartment.

i’ve been a barista. a busier. a food runner. a hostess. a bartender. a bar back. a server. a dishwasher. a part time photographer. i’ve faked some sommelier knowledge with the best of them. right now i work as a pastry chef and server in an awesome little joint and have my own baking business on the side. oh and of course, i’m a full time dog mom.

it’s all pretty swell. most of my posts will include recipes, some just mindless rantings of 2am. in this one i’m just saying hey.

xox,

the bakery lady