Friday, April 24, 2015

mellow yellow.

yellow kitchen cabinets.

This mellow yellow is calling my name (especially when paired with cool grey).

(New rhubarb recipes are coming next week - get excited.)

Image via Pinterest.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

spicy sweet potato chip and avocado sandwich.

Last week's issue of the NYTimes dinning section stole my heart because my love of sandwiches knows no bounds.   It is safe to say that after reading the article about how to build a better sandwich, I had a SERIOUS hankering for something stuffed between two slices of bread.   

And so I made one epic sandwich.  

Some may scoff at the idea of a sandwich containing no meat.  While vegetarian sandwiches are not the norm, they are incredibly delicious especially when they encompass lots of different textural and flavor elements. The key to a good sandwich is juxtaposition - something crunchy with something soft.  Something spicy with something sweet.  If you can get that balance right the sandwich possibilities are endless. 

This particular sandwich has it all - crispy, crunchy homemade sweet potato chips.  Creamy avocado and a particularly addicting spicy special sauce.  It's not neat and it's not pretty but it's good and satisfying and absurdly delicious.   

Spicy Sweet Potato Chip and Avocado Sandwich
Recipe adapted from Dolly and Oatmeal

Makes 2 Sandwiches

1 large sweet potato, sliced lengthwise to about 1/8-inch thickness
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Large grain sea salt + fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1 ripe avocado, sliced
Micro greens, sprouts, small lettuce, etc.
2 ounces of goat cheese
4 slices bread (or 2 rolls), toasted
Spicy Special Sauce (see below for recipe)

Pre-heat oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Mix sliced sweet potatoes, oil, paprika, a couple pinches of salt, and a few grinds of pepper, until potatoes are evenly coated.  Spread potatoes in a single layer, do not overlap or overcrowd.

Bake for 15 minutes, then flip each potato over and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  At this point some potatoes might be crisp; if so, remove from baking sheet and transfer to a large platter or plate. Continue this process until potatoes are lightly browned and crisp.  Let potatoes cool in a single layer. (Placing them on top of one another while still hot will result in a soggy chip.)

Remove spicy sauce from fridge and spread a good amount on both sides of the bread.  Add avocado, chips, micro greens, and goat cheese, and top with remaining slice of bread

Spicy Special Sauce

1 teaspoon good dijon mustard
2 1/2 tablespoons mayonaise or vegenaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon sriracha
1/4 teaspoon maple syrup

Whisk all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl; cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at 1 hour or up to 1 week

Thursday, April 16, 2015

sandwich love.

The NYTimes Food and Dinning Section did a series about sandwiches this week and it made me feel as if all my food dreams had come true.  (If there is anything I love in this world it's a good sandwich.)  

With picnic season fast approaching (my favorite thing is to pack us an epic lunch and read in the park for hours on end) it's nice to have some new sandwich inspiration.  The one at left I find truly dreamy - arugula, roast beef, provolone and hot pepper relish.  Expect this to be the summer of the sandwich.   

Check out the articles here and here. Also the ode to the breakfast sandwich is particularly lovely.   

Image via the NYTimes.    

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

ricotta and black pepper gnudi.

Several years ago, when Eleven Madison Park was managed by Danny Meyer, Tyler and I managed to snag a Friday night dinner reservation.  We were maybe 25 at the time and I couldn't quite believe that a restaurant as majestic, regal, and beautiful as Eleven Madison Park would allow some young girl and her boy to eat in their restaurant. It seemed like a place that only-sharp dressed, fancy-pants people could eat at.  If they thought less of us you would have never known. The service was incredible and the meal was memorable.  

The highlight of the evening and the thing I still dream about was a ricotta dish.  At first glance I thought I was given a plate of gnocchi but with one bite I realized this was an entirely different beast. This was a plate of cheese disguised as pasta; each bite resulted in an explosion of cheesiness.  To say I was smitten would have been an understatement.   

It wasn't until a couple of years later that I realized what I ate was gnudi. Gnudi are essentially balls of ricotta covered in the thinnest layer of semolina.  They are the fancy-pants (and far better) version of mozzarella sticks so you can see why I would be so obsessed.  It never occurred to me that I could make them myself and that making them could be so insanely easy (learning some things can be very dangerous) but thankfully Kenji over at Serious Eats helped me right my wrong.  

Ricotta and Black Pepper Gnudi
Recipe adapted from Serious Eats 

Kenji recommended a sage and brown butter sauce to serve with these.  I am sure that would be superb but I made a light cream sauce with peas and that paired beautifully (though I think a sorrel sauce could be pretty incredible as well).  The choice is yours! (Kenji's sauce recipe can be found in the link to the Serious Eats site.) I also wouldn't be opposed to eating these with just a drizzle of olive oil and lots of black pepper and Parmesan.     

Serves 4-6 as an appetizer or 2 to 3 as a main course. 

16 ounces best quality fresh sheep or cow's milk ricotta
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups semolina flour

For the gnudi: Line a large plate with three layers of paper towels or a clean dish towel. Transfer ricotta directly to paper towels and spread with a rubber spatula. Place another triple layer of paper towels or a clean dish towel on top and press down firmly with the palms of your hands to blot excess moisture. Peel off upper paper towels.

Place a large bowl on a scale and zero the scale. Scrape ricotta into bowl to weigh. Remove excess ricotta to leave exactly 12 ounces. Reserve excess ricotta for another use. Add Parmesan and season heavily with black pepper. Combine mixture with a rubber spatula. Season to taste with salt. Transfer to a large clean plate and spread into a thin, even layer. Transfer to freezer and let chill for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, transfer half of the semolina flour to a large bowl and the other half to a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. When ricotta is chilled, scrape it into a separate empty large bowl and fold it with a rubber spatula until no big chunks of frozen ricotta remain. Using a small cookie scoop or spoon form a ball of ricotta about 1 1/2-inches wide (about 2 tablespoons) and transfer to the bowl with the flour. Using your fingers, scoop dry flour over the top of the ricotta ball.

Once the ball is coated, gently lift it and roll it around in your hands to form a neat sphere. Transfer it to the baking dish. Repeat with remaining ricotta. You should have about 16 to 20 finished gnudi. Sprinkle any remaining semolina in the bowl over the formed gnudi. Cover baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 and up to 3 days, turning the gnudi once per day. Once gnudi have formed a skin, they can be frozen. Transfer to a large plate or a rimmed baking sheet and freeze until solid, about 1 hour. Transfer to a zipper-lock freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Allow to thaw on a plate covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.

To Cook and Serve: Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add gnudi and cook, stirring very gently, for 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnudi to a platter. 

Transfer gnudi to a warm serving dish or to individual plates. Sprinkle with Parmesan and black pepper and sauce of your choice. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

framed photos.

This dinning room makes me want to finally print out some of my travel photos and blow them up for our walls.  

Image via Pinterest.

Monday, April 13, 2015

coconut brown butter cookies.

My ability to become completely fixated and obsessed with an item or food is probably one of my worst quirks.  I have zero patience when I want something - it's as if my brain starts screaming "must get this now".  I've tried to desperately control it, but the second I tell myself no, it just rears it's ugly head even stronger.  I've learned to just give-in.  It's better for everyone and will-power is overrated if you ask me.   
Which is why, less than a week after returning from Nashville, I found myself in my kitchen with a mission to make a buttery coconut cookie that embodied everything the version found south of the Mason-Dixon had. Thankfully the ever-reliable Deb at Smitten Kitchen had already done all of the work for me.  Her coconut brown butter cookie looked to be the thing my dreams were made of.   

And it was.  It was everything and more.  A cookie composed of massive amounts of butter and coconut and just enough flaky sea salt to make them impossibly addicting.   Crispy edges and a slightly chewier center - it's my kind of textured cookie-nirvana.

And while Deb does not suggest a drizzle of bittersweet chocolate, I can't help but think she wouldn't be opposed to such an idea.  (It really is a brilliant addition if you ask me.)   

Coconut Brown Butter Cookies
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen 

Yield: 1 dozen (if you make the massive bakery size), about 2 dozen of a medium size (about 2T dough each) or 4 dozen of a small size (1T each).

1 cup (2 sticks or 225 grams) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (145 grams) packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (175 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Slightly heaped 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
4 cups (240 grams) dried, unsweetened coconut chips

See note about chocolate at the end of the recipe.   

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as it seems to take forever (more than 5 minutes) but then turns dark very quickly. Once it is a deeply fragrant, almost nut-brown color, remove from heat and pour butter and all browned bits at the bottom into a measuring cup. Adding 2 tablespoons water should bring the butter amount back up to 1 cup. Chill browned butter in the fridge until it solidifies, about 1 to 2 hours. You can hurry this along in the freezer, but check back and stir often so it doesn't freeze unevenly solid.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
Scrape chilled browned butter and any bits into a large mixing bowl. Add both sugars and beat the mixture together until fluffy. Add egg and beat until combined, scraping down bowl as needed, then vanilla. Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a separate bowl. Pour half of flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined, then add remaining flour and mix again, scraping down bowl if needed. Add coconut chips in two parts as well.

Scoop dough into 1, 2 or more (Rubin recommends a 2-inch wide scoop for bakery-sized cookies) balls and arrange a few with a lot of room for spreading on first baking sheet; use the back of a spoon or your fingers to flatten the dough slightly.   Bake first tray of cookies; 1 tablespoon scoops will take 10 to 11 minutes; 2 tablespoon scoops, 12 to 14 minutes, the 2-inch scoop used at the bakery, 14 to 16 minutes; take the cookies out when they’re deeply golden all over.

Cool cookies on baking sheet for 1 to 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cookies keep for up to one week at room temperature. Extra dough can be stored in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for a month or more.

Note: If you are like me and enjoy some chocolate with your coconut – melt some bittersweet chocolate in the microwave (watch carefully so it doesn't burn!) and drizzle over the top (about 2 ounces) or more if you feel like being really generous.