Wednesday, January 28, 2015

vietnamese chicken salad.

One of my personal goals this year has been to figure out a way to take all the odd's and end's leftovers we seem to possess at the end of each week and turn them into AN ACTUAL MEAL.   Not hodge-podge of assorted bites but rather something new and different and special.

Nothing like being forced to think creatively.

This new goal has forced me to Google things like "What to do with leftover INSERT ITEM HERE" because by Friday my head hurts, I am exhausted, and thinking about making dinner involves more work then I am capable of at that moment .  This is why I need the good people at Google to tell me what to do with leftover cabbage, some roasted chicken, and any other pantry items they think I should use.  My faith in them proved to be a good thing as my search led me to Vietnamese Chicken Salad.

I generally shy away from shredded foods (to this day I refuse to order sandwiches with shredded lettuce) but as I am nearing 30, I feel it's time I branch out a bit more.  What's life without trying something new? And you know what - this was one of the best (and easiest) things I've made all month.

Leftover roast chicken is tossed with shredded cabbage and carrots (and some peanuts for crunch!) and dressed in a funky dressing that is both sweet, spicy, tart, and bright.  It's the perfect dish for January when the winter doldrums have hit and you are craving something bright.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

Serves 2 Generously

For the Salad
1 1/2 cups roasted chicken, diced (white, dark, or a combination of both works!)
1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced (shredded)
2 carrots, shredded
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup roasted salted peanuts
2 Thai chiles, minced

For the Dressing
2 tablespoons sugar
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil

In a small bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients and stir to combine.

Toss all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Pour the dressing over the ingredients.  Toss to combine. Eat immediately.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

petite.

Most of the apartments we come across in our rather lazy search for a future, permanent home of our own, include rather abysmal if not all around pathetic kitchens.  Most of the time, I suggest we blow out all of the walls to make an open floor plan (my dream).  At this point, Tyler reminds me that such a decision isn't an option when dealing with a load bearing wall.  

I hate when my dreams are impossible.  

But today while watching Food Network and browsing Pinterest, I came across this petite-sized kitchen that has me thinking small and enclosed is good and maybe better then large and open .  What is cuter than a kitchen nook?  My own special hiding place where I can whip up feasts and hide among my All-Clad pans and fancy knives.  

And an all white space with open-shelving somehow almost feels large.  

My thinking cap has been put on...

small kitchen

Image via Pinterest

Monday, January 26, 2015

orange chocolate chunk cake.

The one plus side of cooking as much as I do, is that in situations like this (i.e. THE BLIZZARD OF 2015), you aren’t going to find me waiting on a 3 block long line to enter into Whole Food or Trader Joe’s to buy pita chips, hummus, and bananas (this is the kind of food I think people who don’t cook a lot survive on).  Instead I am digging into my (overly stocked) pantry and (stuffed to the brim) freezer to cook, bake, and roast us an epic meal.   We are all set Sir Juno so bring on your 24 inches of snow, I have books and magazines and double chocolate orange cake to survive on.  

Yes!  DOUBLE Chocolate orange cake.  I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to talk about this cake because this cake is one of my most absolute favorites.  I know some people scoff at the combination of chocolate and fruit but to me, there is no better combination.  I like the tartness and the acidity that fruit brings to chocolate.  This is why I always toss dried cherries into my brownies and go absolutely insane for passion fruit truffles (Tyler if you are reading this a box of 12 for Valentine’s Day from Xocolatti would be swell, THANKS).  But this cake, this cake is perfect for blizzards and winter and general hibernation time.  It’s dense and buttery and positively moist from the orange syrup.  But the real kicker is the chocolate ganache which makes the cake the perfect indulgence for a snowy winter day. 

Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake
Recipe from Ina Garten

Recipe can EASILY be halved and baked in a loaf pan (or if you don’t have a bundt pan you can bake it in 2 loaf pans).  Oh and Ina loves extra-large eggs, but trust me, large works fine.   

For the Cake
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup grated orange zest (4 large oranges)
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups good semisweet chocolate chunks

For the Syrup

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

For the Ganache
8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the orange zest.
Sift together 3 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss the chocolate chunks with 2 tablespoons flour and add to the batter. Pour into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pan, set it on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely.

For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cake.



Thursday, January 22, 2015

review: arcade bakery.

In my never ending quest to discover the best that New York has to offer, it took me all of 3 days after reading about Arcade Bakery located in the HALLWAY OF AN OFFICE BUILDING IN LOWER MANHATTAN to actually visit it.   The fact that it was located in one of the most inconspicuous and unlikely bakery locations in the city is what initially sold me on it (I love places that feel secret and known only to me). But then I read about the bread (dreamy baguettes and fresh pizza) and despite my best intentions to avoid carbs the week before my wedding, I may have visited 4 days before I walked down the aisle to stuff my face with bread and carmel apple brioche (will power isn't my think nor is sacrificing for the sake of my vanity, if there is anything that will help you survive your wedding, it's not depriving yourself of fluffy, warm bread).   

I have since been back twice and intend to visit again tomorrow and if that isn't any indication that it's some of the best bread in the city, then maybe the below descriptions of (some of) their offerings will sell you on it. 

Stollen - I stuffed this in my face as I walked to meet one of my girlfriends for lunch at Locanda Verde.  My intention was to only have a small bite (I was about to go to lunch!) but a small bite turned into the whole thing and #sorrynotsorry.   Some people love stollen, others hate it (and prefer panettone) but I fall somewhere in the middle.  Some are good, some are BAD, and others like this one are so ethereal that you will happily spend the rest of the day walking around New York with a trail of powdered sugar down the front of your coat.   Sweet but not absurdly so, chock-full of the best dried fruit, and a decent amount of almond flavoring, it's tender and perfect.  I am wishing I had a piece right now.      

Chocolate Almond Croissant - Tyler and I share a chocolate almond croissant practically every Saturday morning.  It's our weekly ritual and I love it almost as much as I love him.  The croissants from our neighborhood bread shop are good and I love them because of the nostalgia I associate with our ritual but the chocolate almond croissant at Arcade is INSANE. This is no light and dainty croissant.  It's full of almond and chocolate and encased in the flakiest of all croissant shells.  I am smitten, obsessed, and waking up early to get one before work tomorrow.  

Chocolate Bread - I don't know if dessert toast is a thing, but if it was I would only want it served on this bread. A cocoa based bread is filled with chunks of dried cherries and oranges and more chocolate.  It's decadent but not so heavy that you feel as if you are going to die.  I like it served with nutella and cherry jam (yes I am a glutton) but a swipe of salted butter would be epic.  And if you have any left MAKE BREAD PUDDING.  You can thank me later (recipe coming soon!).  

Caramel Apple Brioche - I think the picture says just about everything, don't you?  (If not - caramel apples are nestled in homemade puff pastry - sweet, tart, flaky, deliciousness.)  

So yeah.  It's that good and I suggest going as soon as you can.  

(If you are lucky (due to it's proximity to City Hall), you may catch a couple celebrating their marriage.  And while I loved our wedding, I would have been pretty happy to have it be the 2 of us at City Hall and a couple of chocolate almond croissants and a coffee to celebrate.   Especially one of THOSE croissants.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

marble.

I've had an obsession with marble as of late.  There is something about about it's design - a little rough, a little organic, and impossibly chic.  I realize marble is pretty impractical (this is probably why I love it) but a marble backsplash would make for one killer kitchen (especially when paired with navy and natural wood).  

[CasaGiardino] ♡ 11 Beautifully Edited Interiors to Inspire You via @domainehome

Image via Pinterest

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

butternut soup with brown butter and nutmeg crème fraîche

Before you make a Thomas Keller recipe, you will read through the recipe and think to yourself this is insane. Thomas Keller recipes are absurdly particular, some may even say anal in their instructions.   Your immediate reaction will be to think you can cut corners - that it doesn't really matter how thick you cut your leeks and onions.  Roasting and cooking my squash isn't actually necessary. But, resist the urge to cut corners.  While the recipe may seem absolutely mad, you will be rewarded for your ability to follow instructions to a T.   

I was apprehensive of this particular squash soup recipe.  It seemed too finicky and particular for my tastes.   But the commentators raved and I remembered that Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc chocolate chip cookie recipe is my absolute favorite so I decided to give it a go.   

In short, this soup is kind of amazing.  

I've made a lot of squash soups in my day but this one is killer.  Impossibly flavorful, absurdly beautiful, and incredibly comforting.  It works for both an up-scale dinner party and a lazy Sunday evening dinner at home in your PJ's.   Despite all of the steps (and particulars of the recipe) it's kind of easy.  I don't know how such flavor is coaxed out of the simplest of ingredients, but somehow, someway it happens and it's a beautiful thing.     

Butternut Soup with Brown Butter and Nutmeg Crème Fraîche
Recipe adapted from Food 52 and Thomas Keller

Serves 6 

My inability to read a recipe properly left me roasting the entire squash and not just the bulb.  The soup was still killer so I don't think I harmed it any way but I imagine it is better to cook it as written.  Oh! A sprinkle of smoked spanish paprika at the very end is a very killer addition.   


One 3 to 3 1/2-pound butternut squash
2 tablespoons canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 sage sprigs
1 cup thinly sliced (1/8-inch thick) leeks, white and light green parts only
½ cup thinly sliced (1/8-inch thick) carrots
½ cup thinly sliced (1/8-inch thick) shallots
½ cup thinly sliced (1/8-inch thick) onions
6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons honey
6 cups vegetable stock, plus extra if necessary
Bouquet Garni made of 8 sprigs thyme, 2 sprigs Italian parsley, 2 bay leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, all wrapped in a packet made of 2 green leek leaves
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
¼ cup crème fraîche or sour cream
Freshly grated nutmeg
Canola oil (if using sage leaves)
12 sage leaves or 1 tablespoon minced chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

For the soup: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a small baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment.
Cut the neck off the squash and set it aside. Cut the bulb in half and scoop out and discard the seeds. Brush each half inside and out with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the canola oil. Sprinkle the cavities with salt and pepper and tuck a sprig of sage into each. Place cut side down on the baking sheet and roast for about 1 hour, or until completely tender.

Remove the squash from the oven and let cool, then scoop out and reserve the flesh (discard sage).
Meanwhile, using a paring knife or a peeler, carefully peel away the skin from the neck of the squash until you reach the bright orange flesh. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch pieces (you should have about 4 cups).

Put the remaining canola oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat, add the leeks, carrots, shallots, and onions and cook, stirring often, for about 6 minutes. Add the diced squash, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook gently for 3 minutes, reducing the heat as necessary to keep the garlic and squash from coloring. Stir in the honey and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock and bouquet garni, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the squash is tender.

Add the roasted squash and simmer gently for about 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Remove from the heat and discard the bouquet garni. Transfer the soup to a blender, in batches, and puree. Strain the soup through a fine sieve into a bowl (optional). Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning. Let the soup cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

To complete: Place the crème fraiche or sour cream  in a chilled small metal bowl and stir in nutmeg to taste. Whisk with a small whisk until the crème fraiche/sour cream holds a shape. Cover and refrigerate.

Reheat the soup. If it is too thick, add a little more vegetable stock. Heat a medium skillet over high heat. When it is very hot, add the butter and rotate the skillet over the heat as necessary to brown the butter evenly, scraping up any bits that settle in the bottom. As soon as the foaming has subsided and the butter is a hazelnut brown, pour it into the pot of soup. Be careful not to leave the butter over the heat too long, as it can change from rich brown to black in seconds.

Meanwhile, if using sage leaves (optional), heat 1/8 inch of canola oil in a small skillet. When the oil is very hot, add the sage and cook for 30 to 45 seconds, turning the leaves to crisp them on both sides. When the bubbling stops, the moisture in the leaves will have evaporated and the leaves will be crisp. Drain the sage on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.

Ladle the soup into six serving bowls. Top each with a dollop of crème fraîche. Grind some black pepper over the top and garnish each with 2 sage leaves or some minced chives. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top.