Tuesday, July 22, 2014

fuzzy pillows.

Kitchen seating has never looked so good.  

(The floor to ceiling subway tile is also pretty amazing.)

Kitchen's dont' need to be convetional.  Chandeliers and fuzzy pillows somehow manage to work.  And they work oh so well.  

(Can I move in?)

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Image via Pinterest.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

zucchini butter.

We are finally at that glorious time of year where the markets are brimming and overflowing with the ingredients that make me weak in the knees. Tomatoes! (I had my first heirloom of the season last night and I practically wept.)  Corn! (Slathered in butter with lots of salt and pepper please.) Peppers! (Slow roasted until they collapse and then stuffed into a foccacia sandwich with mozzarella.)

But I am not here to talk about those beautiful foods today (come back in a week or two).  I am here to discuss zucchini.  (If we were in a room together and I was making that statement, I'm imagining a long awkward silence to occur right about...now.)

Zucchini.  Zucchini is a vegetable that somehow manages to give and give and then give some more.  If you have a garden and are growing zucchini $100 bucks says that by the end of the summer you are begging for the zucchini to stop because you can't bring yourself to eat another bite.  There is a reason why zucchini has ended up in so many baked goods (zucchini bread! zucchini whoppie pies! zucchini pancakes!), someone needed to find a way to consume all of it without going mad.  If that person knew about zucchini butter, I imagine they would have been encouraged their zucchini plants to keep on giving. 

Zucchini butter is basically shredded zucchini cooked down with a (little bit) of butter until it gets soft and tender and jammy.  At that point its spreadable vegetable wonderfulness that begs to be slathered on well toasted bread and served with goat cheese.  

Here's to the summer of zucchini.  

Zucchini Butter
Recipe via Food 52

There is an endless number of changes you could make to this dish. Spices! (Crushed red pepper flakes! Smoked parika! Aleppo pepper!) Herbs! (Basil! Mint!).  I am dreaming about endless varieties though I must admit, the original version is utterly addicting.

Makes about 2 cups


2 pounds zucchini or assorted summer squash (feel free to use less or add extra -- cooking times will vary)
¼ cup olive oil or butter (I strongly recommend the butter)
2 minced cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Coarsely grate the zucchini. Let it drain in a colander for 3 to 4 minutes or until you are ready to begin cooking. To hasten cooking time, squeeze the water out of the zucchini by wringing it in a clean cloth towel.

In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil/butter until warmed/melted. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté briefly. Add the zucchini and toss. Cook and stir over medium to medium-high heat until the zucchini reaches a spreadable consistency, about 15 minutes. If you scorch the bottom, turn the flame down! (And scrape those delicious bits into the butter for added flavor -- you can splash in a little water to help deglaze the pan.) The zucchini will hold its bright green color and slowly caramelize into a nice vegetable jam.  Season with salt and pepper. 

Enjoy on toast.  Or by the spoonful.  



Thursday, July 17, 2014

cherry almond dutch baby.


Brunch in New York is taken very seriously which is why I both love and loathe it.  I loathe it because it's usually loud, (thanks to a child have a severe temper-tantrum) rushed, (turn-over is the name of the game) and underwhelming.  I love it because the foods that are socially acceptable to be eaten at brunch, namely eggs benedict and french toast (which if we are being honest here is practically the same as bread pudding) are some of my favorite foods in the world. 

So don't you think it's about time you start serving brunch at home?  You can eat in your PJ's! And you can serve thing's like a cherry almond dutch baby which may be the greatest brunch dish of all time.  
A dutch baby is essentially a giant pancake that gets baked in a cast iron skillet.  This one with it's addition of cherries and slivered almonds is an elevated version (that is extremely appropriate for the summer months).  I like it served with a plethora of powdered sugar (though I wouldn't be opposed if you decided to add a spoonful of whipped cream) and the current issue of NYMag.  

Suddenly brunch sounds dreamy.  


Cherry Almond Dutch Baby
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Serves 2 generously or 4 petitely

3 large egg
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (more or less to taste)
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups pitted sweet cherries
1/2 cup sliced almonds, well-toasted
Powdered sugar
Lemon wedges

Heat oven to 425°F. Whisk egg, sugar, flour, milk, extract and salt together until the batter is blended but lumpy; you can also do this in a blender. In a 12-inch ovenproof frying pan, melt butter. Add cherries and cook until warmed, about 2 minutes. Pour in batter and transfer to heated oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and rumpled-looking. (I err on the side of more cooking time with these pancakes, because I find the longer, within a range, they cook, the more rumpled and golden they get.)

Remove pancake from oven and quickly scatter with toasted almonds, dust with powdered sugar and squeeze lemon juice over. Serve in wedges, piping hot.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

101 cheap eats.

NYMag (one of my all time favorite reads) rounded up the 101 Best Cheap Eats in NYC and it's a pretty epic list.  

Of the 101 I've only eaten at 15 which is a pretty terrible showing on my part! 

Black Seed Bagels (Meh.)
Porchetta (Yum.)
Pok Pok NY (I preferred the cocktails to the food.  Is that weird?)
Parm (Always and forever a personal favorite.)
Roberta's (Just the pizza thus far which means I need to try all the other things.)
Sullivan St. Bakery (This bread. Divine.)
Bread's Bakery (My one true love.  The rye bread, the marizapan rugelach, the chocolate babka all makes me weak in the knees.)
Best Pizza (A perfect old school New York slice.)
Court St. Grocers (Perfect sandwiches. They comforted me after the hurricane.)
Bark (Hot dogs.  Really, really good hot dogs and burgers and fries and shakes oh my.  One of my favorite places.)
Mighty Quinn's BBQ (The BEST BBQ in NYC.  Oh the brisket.)
Red Hook Lobster Pound (Good but I prefer Luke's.  Personal preference.)
Henry Public (The BEST BURGER. Period.  The fries are superb as well.)
Victory Garden (Swoon worthy ice cream made of goat's milk!)
Artichoke Basille's Pizza (Go for the Grandma slice and only the grandma slice.)

My new goal is to hit 50.  I think 50 is a reasonable number.  More then that and I will probably regret my decision (and get fat).  First up! El Quinto Pino.  (I'll be seeing you this weekend because tapas, I love you).  If anyone wants to join me on any of these adventures, I would love the company.  

Oh and a return visit to Henry Public is for sure in order.  Because it's summer and burgers and summer go together like pasty skin and suntan lotion.  

(The picture is from NYMag and it's basically just some of the unreal offering's from Breads Bakery. BABKA)  

Monday, July 14, 2014

piadina.

One of my life goals is to discover all of the different ways with which I can stuff fillings into bread-like vehicles for easy food consumption (because nothing is better then hand-held foods).  You would think this would be an easy task (how many riffs on the sandwich can there possibly be?) but it is not (do you know how many nationalities have their own version of a sandwich!).  This is why I am hear to talk about the piadina.  

I was introduced to the piadina by my parents (they tend to introduce me to all good things in this world).  It is a cross between a tortilla and a pita which I suppose makes it an Italian flatbread but calling it an Italian flatbread makes it sound so boring and un-special and piadina are the furthest thing from boring.  Essentially it is an unleavened bread that gets cooked over the grill until char marks appear (the char marks are key). It then gets topped with any number of things, though if this picture is any indication I am partial to delicious Italian goat cheese, sopressata, arugula, apricots, and a nice drizzle of honey.  

This is the perfect hot weather food and just the right vehicle for transferring the bounty that exists this time of year into your mouth via something other then your typical bread.  It also sounds cool which is reason enough to make it.  

Piadina
Recipe from the NYTimes

Typically piadina are made with lard and while versions made with lard are spectacular, they aren't nearly as practical (who has lard on hand at all times?).  This version with olive oil allows you to make piadina any night of the week, no special ingredients necessary.   

Makes 8

2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or 3 ½ cups all-purpose if you want to omit the whole wheat)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
¼ cup olive oil
Optional toppings (but let’s be honest, the sky’s the limit) – Goat cheese, arugula, sliced peaches or apricots (or really any stone fruit), sopressata or salami, Tallegio (a personal favorite), shaved Pecorino, the list goes on..

In a food processor or heavy-duty mixer, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the water and oil. Process or mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 1 minute. Remove from the machine, and knead briefly by hand on a lightly floured surface. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with a bowl, and let rest 1 hour.

Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Cover all but 1 piece with a bowl. On a lightly floured surface, shape the piece into a ball. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to an 8-inch circle. Place a piece of wax paper on a large dinner plate, and put the circle of dough on it. Roll out the remaining dough, stacking the circles on the plate with wax paper in between. (To Note – You can store the rolled out piadina in the fridge for up to 2 days before cooking.)

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees. Heat a nonstick (or cast iron) skillet over medium-high heat. Test the temperature by flicking some droplets of water onto the surface; if the water sizzles and evaporates quickly, the griddle is ready. Place a circle of dough in the skillet. Cook 30 seconds, or until the dough begins to stiffen and turns golden brown. Flip the piadina, and brown the other side. Place the piadina on a piece of foil in the oven, and keep warm until serving.

Top each piadina with the toppings of your choice.  Fold the piadina in half and serve.  





























Friday, July 11, 2014

a food lover's guide to (portland and the surrounding area) maine.

Displaying photo.JPGMy better half is a born and raised Maine boy.  For as long as we've been together, there have been annual pilgrimages to Maine (usually over the 4th of July weekend since I am more partial to Maine when the sun is shinning and the weather is warm).  Over the years, I've fallen in love with the state (and particularly Portland), which feels like a quaint New England town with a decent amount of hipster Brooklyn flair and some of the best eating around.  On this past trip I managed to hit many phenomenal eateries (some new and some old favorites) and I figured it's about time I share my list of the best Portland, Maine (and the surrounding areas) has to offer (though this is not all-inclusive, that list would be far too long). Most of these spots are food related (duh) but on occasion I do things other then eat (I'm as shocked as you are), so there are a few shops thrown in for good measure! (The antiquing in Maine is like nothing else.)

Miyake - If you are in anyway a sushi-aholic, this is the place for you.  Miyake is an adorable man with an inventive style who is keen on using local Main produce (some of which he raises himself!) in all of his dishes. Splurge on the omakase, it's an excellent value and always wonderful.  The lobster roll is amazing and is something I often dream about.

The Holy Donut - I may have stopped here twice and over the course of the trip and tried 8 different doughnut flavors (no shame). These are AMAZING.  The are made with Maine potato flour which makes for a most flavorful doughnut.  I am partial to the coconut though the mojito doughnut was pretty swell as well.  Go early in the morning for the best selection. I am already dreaming about when I can have one again. 

Palace Diner - Oh this place.  I am in love.  Located about 20 minutes outside of Portland in an old train car that's been around since the twenties is the diner of my dreams.  A former NYC chef (from Gramercy Tavern!) has taken over and is turning out elevated diner classics.  The food is fresh, uses lots of local ingredients, and is rib-sticking satisfying.  If you go on Sunday you may be lucky enough to find the fried chicken sandwich on the menu, if that is the case YOU MUST ORDER IT (just look at that picture).  Best I ever had.  I want one right now. The egg dishes looked pretty awesome as well.  The french toast is dreamy.  
  
Central Provisions - I have a soft spot for small plate restaurants (I love eating bites of all different things). This is one of the best with a menu approach similar to the small plate restaurants I ate at in California.  They don't focus on one type of food, instead the approach is to look at what's seasonal and create a dish around that.  I fell hard for the beef with sriracha and peanuts.  The space is also beautiful.  I have plans to return for brunch.  

Leroux Kitchen - If you are on the hunt for a random kitchen object, this is the place for you.  Whisks of all shapes and sizes, knives galore, and a superb spice section makes it a favorite place of mine.  The staff is super helpful and they carry a nice selection of Made in the USA products which is something that always makes me happy to see.  

Two Fat Cats - Whoopie pies (chocolate and pumpkin) and the best blueberry pie around.  You shouldn't need to know anything else.  

Portland Hunt and Alpine Club - Cocktails.  So many wonderfully delicious cocktails.  The Brown Derby (bourbon, grapefruit, and agave) may be my new favorite drink.  The space has that Scandanavian vibe going for it (something I love) and it's the kind of place I could happily spend an entire Friday night at (it's also the kind of place I wish we had in Jersey City). They have some good looking small-plates if you are in need of some food with your drinks.  

Scarborough Lobster - Located outside of Portland, it has my favorite lobster (and crab!) rolls.  It doesn't look like much, but it is damm good.  

Portland Salvage - Someday, when I have more money and a place Tyler and I call our own, I will come here to outfit our home.  I could spend hours aimlessly wandering through the maze of industrial salvaged objects (clawfoot tubs! filing cabinets! old doors!) unearthing treasures on the 4 different floors.  The stuff is beautiful and reminds you of a time when things were made in America and quality was of the utmost importance.   

Micucci Grocery - Fluffy Sicilian pizza slices the size of your head.  If you can finish more then one slice you deserve a prize.  

Portland Flea for All - An indoor weekend flea market held in Portland (and next to Portland Salvage) with a nice mix of vintage clothing, antique kitchen objects, and furniture.  Prices are reasonable and the assortment is interesting (cake stands and smoky glass bowls were a couple of the items that caught my eye).  I left with a most adorable six inch cast iron skillet (already seasoned!) that has become my new best friend.