Tuesday, May 28, 2019

jam bars.

This past weekend, I spent so much time eating outdoors.  A slice of pizza standing on a NYC street corner.  Salads and asparagus flatbread by the pool.  Focaccia sandwiches of roasted zucchini, kale pesto, and mozzarella in a hidden corner of Liberty State Park.   It was the kind of weather that beacons you outside.    Slight breeze, warm sun, freckled shoulders, bare feet.   

Come summer, I like making food that can travel well.  The kind of cooking that allows for spontaneity and spur of the moment park meet ups or alfresco dinners with friends.  As a natural introvert, I’m trying to set myself up to be more comfortable with asking people to do something on a really nice Sunday afternoon.   If the food can be flexible and adaptable, I like to think it’s possible I can be as well.  

To prepare for all of these impromptu picnics, I plan on having a batch of these bars in the freezer at all times between now and Labor Day weekend.  They are a dream – crispy and kind of cookie-like, filling but not heavy.  The right amount of sweet.  I filled them with a homemade cherry rhubarb jam (I cleaned out the freezer!) but I think they would be amazing with a strawberry jam or apricot jam come late summer.   

Jam Bars 
From Tartine All Day by Elisabeth Prueitt

1/2 cup/110g unsalted butter or coconut oil (vegan!), at room temperature
1/3 cup/85g smooth almond butter
2 Tbsp brown rice syrup or maple syrup
1 1/2 cups/150g rolled oats
1 cup/120g almond flour
1 cup/120g oat flour
6 Tbsp/90g granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (Diamond)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp/340g jam 
1 tsp lemon juice
Pinch of sea salt
Sliced almonds (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a 9 by 13-inch/23 by 33cm baking pan with parchment paper. Combine the butter or coconut oil, almond butter, and brown rice syrup or maple syrup in a large bowl and, using a wooden spoon, mix well.

Add the rolled oats, almond flour, oat flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla and almond extracts, and cinnamon to the butter mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. Divide the dough into thirds. Press two-thirds of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan and reserve the remaining one-third for the topping.

Stir together the jam, lemon juice, and salt and then spread the mixture evenly over the bottom crust.

Crumble the remaining one-third dough over the jam filling. If desired, scatter slice almonds on-top.   

Bake the jam bars until golden brown around the edges, about 35 minutes (push it a little bit, you don’t want them pale). Let the pastry cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into bars.

The jam bars will keep, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 4 days (or in the fridge, which is kind of nice too).  Wrapped well, they will last for weeks in the freezer.  

Friday, April 12, 2019

chocolate snacking cake with orange glaze.


Several weeks ago Melissa Clark did a story in the NY Times about snacking cakes.  The kind of thing you make when you need a little pick-me-up/a small sugar rush/a little indulgence to go with your afternoon tea.    I loved the article and the premise of the snacking cake.  It just seems like the kind of recipe everyone should have it their repertoire.  Something you can whip up when your friends are having a bad day or you want to celebrate a little victory or perhaps just because (which is the ideal reason).   

I’ve made 2 of the 3 recipes and while the banana cake is a delight (who can say no to a caramel glaze?) it was the chocolate snacking cake with orange glaze that really won me over.  The chocolate cake is deeply chocolaty, spongy, and moist.   The glaze is sweet with the perfect amount of citrus punch and if offsets the bitterness of the cake incredibly well.   It’s a one bowl and maybe 15 minutes of active cook time.  This makes it dangerously easy to bake it pretty much any day of the week.   

Chocolate Snacking Cake With Orange Glaze
Recipe from the NYTimes 

For the Cake

⅓  cup/80 milliliters neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola, plus more for pan
¾  cup/95 grams all-purpose flour
½  cup/50 grams Dutch-processed cocoa powder
½  teaspoon baking soda
¼  teaspoon baking powder
¼  teaspoon fine sea salt
2  ounces/60 grams chopped dark chocolate (about 1/3 cup)
½  cup/120 milliliters hot coffee
¾  cup/155 grams light brown sugar
⅓  cup/80 milliliters sour cream 
2  large eggs
1  teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Glaze

½  tablespoon finely grated tangerine or orange zest 
1  tablespoon tangerine or orange  juice
1  teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1  cup/115 grams confectioners’ sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-9-inch pan and line with parchment paper, letting the two long edges hang over the sides by at least 2 inches.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a heatproof bowl, melt chocolate in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between. Or you can melt the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water on the stove, stirring well. Whisk in hot coffee.

Whisk together flour mixture, coffee-chocolate mixture, brown sugar, sour cream, oil, eggs and vanilla. Scrape into baking pan and smooth the top. Bake until the top is springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool completely before glazing.

When cake is cool, make the glaze: Whisk together tangerine zest, tangerine juice and lemon juice, then whisk in confectioners’ sugar. Taste, and if it’s too sweet, add another drop or two of lemon juice. Pour glaze onto cooled cake, and spread to the edges. Let glaze set for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

focaccia.

I've been thinking a lot about how much this place has evolved since I first started it.  How the concept of a blog has evolved.  Instagram is the new blogging platform as people don't want long-form paragraphs about recipes or fashion or really anything.  They want instant gratification - a picture of a dish, a one liner about what you made, and then, to move-on.  I can't tell if I think that's the better approach or if there is something special about taking the time to craft a couple of sentences (heck a couple of paragraphs) about life and food.   

Does anyone want to read my thoughts?  I don't have much of a following despite doing this for the better part of 7 (!!!) years.  My lofty plans of turning this into some kind of career never really manifested (though unsure if that kind of career would even suit me).  I'm not really even sure why I continue to come back here.  Am I hoping this means something to someone?  Does it mean something to me?  Does it even matter? 

I watched the Salt Fat Acid Heat 4-part special on Netflix and got a longing to travel to Italy and Japan and then a desire to eat a massive wedge of warm focaccia.   This is the recipe from Samin Nosrat's episode on Fat.  The focaccia that emerges from the oven is perfect.   If I ever open a sandwich restaurant, all sandwiches would be served on this.   

Focaccia
Recipe from Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat

For the dough

2½ cups (600 grams) lukewarm water
½ teaspoon active dry yeast
2½ teaspoons (15 grams) honey
5 1/3 cups (800 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (18 grams) Diamond Crystal Kosher salt or 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
¼ cup (50 grams) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for pan and finishing
Flaky salt for finishing


For the brine

1½ teaspoons (5 grams) Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
⅓ cup (80 grams) lukewarm water

In a medium bowl, stir together water, yeast, and honey to dissolve. In a very large bowl, whisk flour and salt together to combine and then add yeast mixture and olive oil. Stir with a rubber spatula  until just incorporated, then scrape the sides of the bowl clean and cover with plastic wrap. Leave out at room temperature to ferment for 12 to 14 hours until at least doubled in volume.

Spread 2 to 3 tablespoons oil evenly onto a 18-by-13 inch (46-by-33 cm) rimmed baking sheet. When dough is ready, use a spatula or your hand to release it from the sides of the bowl and fold it onto itself gently, then pour out onto pan. Pour an additional 2 tablespoons of olive oil over dough and gently spread across. Gently stretch the dough to the edge of the sheet by placing your hands underneath and pulling outward.  The dough will shrink a bit, so repeat stretching once or twice over the course of 30 minutes to ensure dough remains stretched.  

Dimple the dough by pressing the pads of your first three fingers in at an angle.  Make the brine by stirring together salt and water until salt is dissolved. Pour the brine over the dough to fill dimples.  Proof focaccia for 45 minutes until the dough is light and bubbly. 

Thirty minutes into this final proof, adjust rack to center position and preheat oven to 450°F (235°C). If you have a baking stone, place it on rack.  Otherwise, invert another sturdy baking sheet and place on rack.  Allow to preheat with the oven until very hot, before proceeding with baking. 

Sprinkle focaccia with flaky salt. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes directly on top of stone or inverted pan until bottom crust is crisp and golden brown when checked with a metal spatula.  To finish browning top crust, place focaccia on upper rack and bake for 5 to 7 minutes more.  

Remove from oven and brush or douse with 2 to 3 tablespoons oil over the whole surface (don’t worry if the olive pools in pockets, it will absorb as it sits). Let cool for 5 minutes, then release focaccia from pan with metal spatula and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. 

Serve warm or at room temperature.  

To store, wrap in parchment and then keep in an airtight bag or container to preserve texture. Gently toast or reheat any leftover focaccia before serving. Alternatively, wrap tightly to freeze, then defrost and reheat before serving.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

chicken and rice soup.





































If I'm being honest with myself, this soup is the only thing I plan on eating between now and the first day of spring (only 55ish days from now!).   It popped up a number of times on my Instagram feed and I wondered if you could make a really satisfying chicken soup in under an hour.  It turns out you can and now I find myself making it for dinner (with leftovers for lunch) at least once a week.   

I think what really sets this apart is the addition of rice and sweet potatoes.  Both components kind of breakdown which some may not like, but I'm a fan of it because it gives the soup a really nice body - somehow more luxurious and decadent tasting then you would expect from a chicken soup.   

Chicken and Rice Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Greens 
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs (I've actually used skin on and bone-in with great success)
⅓ cup jasmine rice, rinsed
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 2" piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
2 small sweet potatoes, unpeeled, cut into ½"-thick rounds
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
½ bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 - 3 cups baby kale, spinach, sliced swiss chard
Freshly ground black pepper
Sriracha for serving 

Bring chicken, rice, garlic, ginger, and 5 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add a big pinch of salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until rice has swelled and chicken is firm, 10–12 minutes.

Add potatoes to pan and cook over medium-low heat, still uncovered and stirring occasionally, until soup is thickened and potatoes and rice are tender, 15–20 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to a bowl and shred with 2 forks, then return to pot. Stir in lime juice, soy sauce, and greens; taste soup and season with salt if needed.

Divide soup among bowls. Top with cilantro, sriracha, and lots of black pepper.

Do Ahead: Soup (without cilantro) can be made 3 days ahead. Transfer to an airtight container and chill. Reheat over medium-low, adding water to thin as needed.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

chocolate molasses cookies + my best books of 2018 + a quick year in review.


I could do a year-end review in addition to giving you a stellar cookie recipe and my list of favorite books of 2018 but I'm not sure I remember all that much of this year.  I think whirl-wind doesn't even begin to describe 2018.  But in a year filled with never ending (terrible) news-cycles some happy moments stick out.   Paris with my sister (and eating the most unreal pistachio snail in the Parisian sun).  Tyler throwing me a surprise Birthday picnic with some of my favorite people.  Drinking wine and listening to music outdoors in New Orleans (and then stumbling across a High School marching band performing in the streets).  Endless beach trips with Tyler and Jackson (my favorite being the one where we ate pizza on a blanket and watched the sun set).   Throwing more dinner parties, brunches, and Sunday afternoon chessesteak parties.   An epic Southwest road-trip with my favorite road trip partner.   Eating oysters outdoors (and indoors) in Portland, Maine.  The first strawberry I ate after the winter that felt like the longest winter of all time.   A really super wonderful 4 days with friends in Massachusetts.   Picnics in Brooklyn.  Watching friends get engaged.   Eating my body weight in cherries.  Registering voters in the pouring rain with one of best friends (and eating pizza after).  Sitting by myself on a stoop Labor Day weekend people watching and eating a slice of NYC pizza before meeting Tyler for dinner (there was a lot of good pizza this year). Buying myself really amazing gold earrings for my Birthday.  Finally feeling somewhat more comfortable with who I am and the life choices I've made.  

I'm off work for the next couple of days and will be cooking (a lot!) in preparation for the multi-course NYE dinner party we are hosting.  But in between I will be reading and eating molasses cookies.    I read a lot of great books this year and if you are looking for something to read over the holidays, I'm here with suggestions!  Additionally, these cookies are great.  REALLY GREAT.  They are an adults cookie with the combination of ginger and cocoa powder and the texture is awesome.  They also come together in like 10 minutes which makes them ideal if you are looking for a cookie to bring to a last minute soiree (or a cookie to eat with tea while you spend 5 hours watching the Great British Bake-Off).      

5 Best Books of 2018 

1 - The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai - I can't remember the last time I loved a book the way I loved this one.  I had to wait 4 months to get it from the library but it was totally worth it.  Alternating chapters set-in 1980's Chicago during the AID's epidemic and present-day Paris.   It's a story about love, loss, and friendship and it's so beautiful.

2 - Bad Blood by John Carreyrou - The full inside story of Elizabeth Holmes and her founding of Thernos the multi-billion dollar biotech start-up.  It's a really fascinating look at how so many people drink the kool-aid when it comes to the latest it company in Silcon Valley.  Also she sounds like a serial killer.  

3 - The Leavers by Lisa Ko - The story of an immigrant mother who is forced to put her child up for adoption.   It's written from a number of different characters perspectives.  It's beautifully written, moving, and it feels especially poignant this day in age.   

4 - American Prison by Shane Bauer - A journalist who goes becomes a prison guard in an effort to get an inside look at how the prison system works.  Sheds light on how a system few people know much about works on the inside.   

5 - Normal People by Sally Roony - Not yet out in the US (I ordered it from a UK book publisher). Takes place over a 10 year period, and it looks at how unexplainable forces always seem to draw these two people together.   

Chocolate-Molasses Cookies
Recipe from the NYTimes 

I was out of butter and used coconut oil for these and I feel like this was a really great choice.  

½  cup/115 grams unsalted butter (1 stick) or coconut oil
1  tablespoon freshly grated ginger (optional)
1 ½  cups/190 grams all-purpose flour
½  cup/45 grams cocoa powder
2  teaspoons baking soda
1  teaspoon ground cinnamon
1  teaspoon ground ginger
1  teaspoon kosher salt
⅓  cup/65 grams granulated sugar
½  cup/120 milliliters molasses
1  large egg
 Sanding, Demerara or granulated sugar, for decoration 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Melt butter  or coconut  oil in a small pot over medium heat and add ginger, if using. Remove from heat and let sit a few minutes while you prepare everything else.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, molasses, egg and ginger butter. Using a spatula, slowly mix into dry ingredients, mixing until no dry spots remain.

Using your hands, roll small balls of dough about the size of a quarter (dough will be soft — if it is too soft for you to handle, pop into the fridge for a few minutes to firm up). Roll the balls in the sanding sugar and place on the prepared baking sheets about 1-inch apart.

Bake until just puffed and baked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool completely before eating.

Monday, December 3, 2018

2019 edition - a holiday wish list/gift list

Image result for domino magazine christmas

I contemplated putting together this list because I'm currently in this weird head space where I both hate the idea of buying things but also really love some things (and am therefore buying them for myself because I'm terribly impatient).   So this years list is both a wish list but also my gift suggestions in case you are looking for wonderful gifts to buy others.  

The underlying theme of this list is basically buy less (and not from big box stores - I'm looking at you Amazon) and only buy what you love and what you think others will love and what will make you/them happy.  I realize more and more that a lot of stuff makes me stressed out but I also think there is always something better out there and then buy it because I think this newer/cooler version will make me happier.  I'm making a conscious effort to try and shake that mindset.  IT IS REALLY HARD.  

So here you go.  

1 - Panettone by Roy - If you've had panettone before you're probably like this is OK but nothing special.  This is what I've always thought.  But this panettone is the dreamiest most wonderful thing I have ever eaten.  Roy sells traditional flavors but also updated versions (Banana Caramel!).   This year I ordered one of these instead of a birthday cake for myself (it was passionfruit flavored) and let me tell you, I may never order a birthday cake again.   Also, if you're looking to give this for a gift, you can get someone a 3 month panettone subscription for $93 with shipping.  THIS IS SUCH A GOOD DEAL (especially when you look at the cost of a single panettone) THAT I GOT IT FOR US!  Share with your friends.   

2 - Portable Fireplace Candle - We do not have a fireplace but we do have this candle which is as close as you can get to a fireplace in a 650 square-foot apartment.  It's a really rich smoky, woodsy, scent that we both love (and the scent actually lingers)!  We finished one last year and bought a second one this year.  It also lasts an incredibly long time.   

3 - Linen Napkins - I've been hosting more dinner parties and am looking for new napkins.  These look and feel luxurious and the mustard color is my ideal pop-of-color on a dinner table.

4 - Sweatpants - I've come to realize that the bulk of my time at home is spent in sweatpants and having a matching set just feels like the ultimate luxury (at least to me).  I love this brand so much and the matching sweatshirt/sweatpant set is just the thing for lazy Sundays.   

5 - Socks - I am VERY particular about socks.  These are great with boots and sneakers so I can pull-off that whole cropped jeans with sneakers look I love (the cotton ones are also a favorite of mine).   They stay up which is always my biggest sock peeve.   

6 - Cookbooks! Ottolenghi Simple + The Nordic Baking Book +  Israeli Soul - The Ottoleghi Simple book I bought myself the second it came out.  I've used it pretty much once a week every week since I got it.  The recipes are thoughtful, vegetable driven, and  a lot less labor intensive then some of his other cookbooks.  

The Nordic Baking book just looks super fascinating especially since it includes both sweet and savory baked goods.   


The Israeli Soul book is being added to this list because I read it includes 13 different recipes for hummus (!!!) and also because I really love Middle Eastern food.      

7 - A New set of Mugs - I like a large mug since the large size fits our Italian coffee pot.   These are timeless and chic and the exact size I'm looking for.  Plus they are made by a local ceramist in Brooklyn.    

Picture from here.