Wednesday, July 31, 2013


On a completely unrelated food note, daybeds should be an office requirement.  

This leather one is particularly nice and would be most useful at around 3 PM each day when I need an afternoon rest away from all the crazy.  

(Lusting for all things black leather as of late.  Maybe I am having a goth phase at 28.  Or I am convincing myself I can be as cool as the French as long as I wear all black leather everything.  Actually leather and leopard.  Oh my.)

Image via Pinterest.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

paulie gee's (and finding passion).

"Going back, it wasn't about the pizza as much as creating a job for myself, that's really what I did. I was tired of working and worrying about where my next paycheck was going to come from, so I created my own job. Not enough people do that these days, not enough people are willing to take care of themselves. I think they're afraid, more afraid than ever, because they think that the economy is bad, and if they do take a chance and things don't work out, where do they have to turn? There are fewer places to turn than, say, 20 years ago. But to do something that I enjoy that's effortless for me and reaps rewards, it's an amazing thing. And I'd like to encourage more people to do that."  Paulie Gee

Maybe it’s just me, being 28 and beyond confused about where my life is going, but my god does this make me want to finally jump the corporate ship and try my hands at something that I really love.  Paulie Gee is a man with a passion.  A passion for learning a craft, for honing his skills, and a need to constantly discover and learn and figure out what works and what works better.  I met him once when my darling boyfriend took me to a celebratory dinner at his restaurant at Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  Everything about that night was special.  The room was aglow in that beautiful soft golden light that can only be achieved with a massive amount of tea lights.  The air was warm and perfumed with the scent of  salt, yeast, and smoke.  The pizza was transcendent.  In every bite you could taste the labor of love and a desire to push the boundaries of pizza toppings by combining unusual flavors (unusual salty sweet flavors making him a man after my own heart).  I was instantly smitten (the Hell Boy pizza is the best. pizza. ever.).  And then I met him and I was suddenly even more smitten.  He was the kind of guy who wanted to know everyone in the room, who liked asking questions and loved getting honest answers.  He wanted to talk and learn more in order to improve both himself and his product. He is a guy who wants to produce the best damm pizza and he does.

My dad (the only man more food obsessed them me), sent me this interview that Serious Eats had with Paulie Gee.  Reading it reminded me that at any age we can choose to change the course of our life.  That we don't need to settle for the mundane, the uninspired, or simply a paycheck.  That we can find a way to turn our passions into something more then a hobby, it can be a career, it can be your life.  I tweeted Paulie to thank him for such an inspiring interview and that I hope this will be the push I need. He reminded me the wall is paper thin. 

I encourage you to read the article and if that involves too much work (which is foolish because he discusses a lot of really good life lessons that everyone should read), then definitely get on the G train to Greenpoint and go have some pizza (and make one pizza the Hell Boy) and then if you see Paulie, tell him thanks for me.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

eggplant with buttermilk sauce.

This past week, I’ve been able to embrace open windows and box fans, breezy evenings that leave my curtains fluttering, open knit sweaters and cut-off shorts, rooftop BBQ’s that require a jacket, and light weight light washed jeans with chambray button downs. 

This weather is summer perfection.   

I’ve also allowed myself to reacquaint myself with the oven since turning it on no longer feels as if I am standing at the gates of hell.   

I’ve missed it.

Eggplant is one of those vegetables the needs to be cooked in order to be eaten and the addition of heat (i.e. ovens and stoves and grills) is what turns eggplant into one of the most magical and versatile foods.  It can be meaty or creamy, soft or hard.  My preference lies with the soft and creamy form of eggplant, the version that results after a slow roast in a hot oven where the heat renders the meaty eggplant super tender.  This eggplant recipe does exactly that which is why I love it so. 

Yotam describes this dish as rustically elegant which is a pretty apt description.  The pomegranate seeds look like ruby jewels against the milky buttermilk sauce and the eggplant looks particularly earthy all roasted and charred.  I would describe this dish as a unique riff on eggplant dip.  The boy and I scooped spoonfuls of tender eggplant, creamy buttermilk sauce, and crunchy pomegranate seeds onto rounds of warm sourdough baguette, shoving each piece of bread into our mouth in quick succession.  We then scraped the interior of the eggplant clean, ensuring we got every last bite of roasted eggplant perfection because this is a pretty perfect dish.  

Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce
Recipe via Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi


2 large and long eggplants
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp lemon thyme leaves, plus a few whole sprigs to garnish
Maldon sea salt and black pepper
1 pomegranate
1 tsp za'atar


9 tbsp buttermilk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle to finish
1 small garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp Aleppo pepper
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the eggplants in half lengthways, cutting straight through the green stalk (the stalk is for the look; don't eat it). Use a small sharp knife to make three or four parallel incisions in the cut side of each eggplant half, without cutting through to the skin. Repeat at a 45-degree angle to get a diamond-shaped pattern.

Place the eggplant halves, cut-side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush them with olive oil—keep on brushing until all of the oil has been absorbed by the flesh. Sprinkle with the lemon thyme leaves and some salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, at which point the flesh should be soft, flavorful and nicely browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool down completely.

While the eggplants are in the oven, cut the pomegranate into two horizontally. Hold one half over a bowl, with the cut side against your palm, and use the back of a wooden spoon or a rolling pin to gently knock on the pomegranate skin. Continue beating with increasing power until the seeds start coming out naturally and falling through your fingers into the bowl. Once all are there, sift through the seeds to remove any bits of white skin or membrane.

To make the sauce. Whisk together all of the ingredients. Taste for seasoning, then keep cold until needed.

To serve, spoon plenty of buttermilk sauce over the eggplant halves without covering the stalks. Sprinkle za'atar and plenty of pomegranate seeds on top and garnish with lemon thyme. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

sour cherry crumble.

I've been envisioning myself making a cherry pie for about 5 years now.  It would be complete with crimped edges, a lattice top, and homemade vanilla ice cream to serve it with.  I would bring it to the table wearing a frilly gingham apron, everyone would ooh and ahh.  (I live in such a fantasy land.)  But somehow every summer over the last 5 years, cherry season escaped me before I had the chance to to pit hundreds of cherries to be enclosed in a flaky pie crust.  I swore to myself that this summer would be different (don't we all do that?  Convince ourselves of the highly unlikely.).  Alas, this summer was not different (at least not as of yet, I am still holding out that things will change), cherry pie was not made because that little thing called a heat wave got in the way. Trying to cook a pie in an apartment that even with our lovely air conditioning unit (thanks Mom and Dad!) manages to remain a stagnant 88 degrees whenever the oven is on was something I wasn't willing to do.  So I cooked the next best thing - a cherry crumble.  This crumble is pretty superb since it basically involves and almond shortbread topping that sits on a base of tart sour cherries.  It's a cookie crumble hybrid which is a pretty dandy idea in my book and even more dandy idea then a pie.  And people still ooh and ahh for crumble!

Sour Cherry Crumble
Recipe adapted from I Love New York by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara

So I made a few changes.  First the almond crumble I made using a pastry blender instead of the mixer since I didn't want there to be more dishes.  Either one works. You can probably also blend the butter in with your fingers if you don't own either.  I upped the amount of cherries from 4 cups to 5 since 4 seemed a little stingy to me and baked the crumble in a 9 inch pie pan.  

Almond Crumble

1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup cold butter, diced (1/4 inch)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons bread flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Cherry Filling

5 cups pitted sour cherries
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1/2 lemon

Almond Crumble: Blend all of the ingredients together in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until the mixture becomes crumbly.  Or you can blend the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender until large chunks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Cherry Filling: Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients using a rubber spatula. Transfer the cherry mixture to a 10 by 7-inch baking dish or a 9 inch pie pan. Cover with the almond crumble and bake until golden brown and bubbly, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


All I want is to be surrounded by gold and white.

That and a brownie the size of my head.  (It's be an exhausting, grueling, and discouraging 12 hours.)

Could this kitchen be any more adorable?  It's what I imagine someone with a teeny tiny insanely chic beach house would have as their kitchen.  Just enough space for chopping raw heirloom tomatoes for a burrata and avocado salad.   I want.  I love.  

Image via Pinterest

Monday, July 22, 2013

chipotle chicken, corn, and avocado tacos.


Despite what you may think when you look at the pictures of s’mores, blueberry pie, and fried sushi cakes I am not an overly ambitious chef most nights of the week.  It’s not because I’m lazy or because I don’t want to spend my evening standing over my gorgeous slate island (Best. Purchase. Ever.) but it’s really because there is never enough time.  Things like the gym (to balance out all that bread I like to consume), laundry, and having conversations involving more than 10 words with my better half (because sometimes I want to feel like we still know each other at least a little) get in the way of my nightly culinary adventures.  Hectic nights leave me relying on reliable tried and true favorites – bowls of pasta, mussels, tartines, and my personal favorite, tacos. 

These tacos couldn't be simpler and more summer appropriate (I imagine they will be equally lovely in the winter when you need some summer love).  Poached chicken is tossed in a tangy cider vinegar dressing that pairs well with wedges of creamy avocado and sweet corn.  Slivers of chipotle chile provide the perfect amount of heat and a swipe of sour cream helps to hold the entire thing together.  It’s a refreshing dinner, the kind of thing that requires nothing more than a salad of crisp lettuce and sliced radish to serve it with (and who am I kidding a couple of beers is also a good idea.)  

Chipotle Chicken, Corn, and Avocado Tacos
Recipe adapted from Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless

This couldn't be any easier (I’ve actually been making a recipe similar to this for a while now but this is a more streamlined version).  I love it because it can be made almost any day (because one should always have chicken in the freezer and chipotles in the fridge) and letting it chill in the fridge overnight really helps to marry the flavors (even though it’s pretty fantastic even after just 45 minutes of marinating.)  The corn was added because the idea of a meal without seasonal produce when we are in the midst of the seasonal produce peak would be a sad meal. And let's be honest, corn makes everything better.  

Serves 4

1 large bone in skin on chicken breast (about 1 pound)
2 large bay leaves
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt, divided
2 ears of corn, husked and silky threads removed
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
3 – 4 chipotle chiles in adobe, seeded and thinly sliced
½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro plus extra for garnish
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Accompaniments: 12 corn tortillas, sour cream, 1 avocado sliced into 12 wedges, cilantro to garnish

Bring 3-4 cups of water to boil in a large-sized pot (large enough to fit the chicken and also the corn when the chicken is done cooking).  Add to the water the bay leaves, peppercorns, and ½ teaspoons salt.  When the water comes to a boil add in the chicken, cover the pot, and cook the chicken for 10 minutes in the boiling water.  After 10 minutes, turn the heat off but keep the chicken in the broth (covered) for another 22 minutes.  This will cook the chicken all the way through.  Remove the chicken from the pot and allow it cool. 

Bring the pot of water you cooked the chicken in back to a boil.  Place the corn in the water.  Cook the corn in the boiling water for about 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, remove the corn from the water and allow it to cool. 

Skin and bone the chicken then tear the meat into large shreds and place it in a mixing bowl.   Cut the corn kernels off the cob and place the kernels in the bowl with the chicken.  Skim off all the fat on top of the broth, and then measure 3 tablespoons of broth into a small bowl.  Stir in the vinegar, oregano, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper.  Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture and add the sliced chipotle chiles and cilantro.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.  Stir, cover, and let stand for 45 minutes at room temperature.  (If serving later you can refrigerate it at this point.  This can also be refrigerated overnight, but allow it to come back to room temperature before serving).  

Heat your tortillas up in the oven or over a grill.  Top each tortilla with a little sour cream, the chicken mixture, a wedge of avocado, and a sprinkle of cilantro. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

new at the market.

The jewels of summer have arrived.  Fruits and vegetables in every shade.  Ruby red cherries, plums so golden yellow they appear to glow, apricots the shade of orange that only appears right as the sun sets beyond the horizon.  It's as if the sky came to light in the bins and baskets at the farmers markets.  

I've been stuffing my face with all of these fruits, the juices dribbling down my chin and pooling on whatever surface happens to be under me at that moment.  I've been reminding myself that their seasons are short lived and that I should get my fix in while I can which is why I continue to gorge.  

I've been obsessed with pairing fruits with more savory flavors.  Seared steak with grilled peaches.  Chipotle chicken quesadillas with apricot, cherries with cheddar and ham (a la The I Love New York Cookbook).  It's unexpected and feels gloriously right this time of year.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


These. Are. Epic.  

Sometimes when I get it in my head that I need to tackle every single industrialized supermarket sweet to see if the homemade version really can be that much better then what you buy in the big box stores, I question my sanity.  Spending entire weekends baking something I can easily buy at any corner bodega makes me wonder if there may be a better use for my time (maybe visiting the gym?).  But then I make something that exceeds every expectation I had and I suddenly feel pretty impressed with myself.  (It doesn't take much to impress me.)

As I stated in the beginning of this post, these are epic.  This is how a s'more should be - a messy love affair of chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker.  The graham crackers here are bold and flavorful, snapy but not not hard, sweet but not cloyingly so.  The marshmallows are fluffy and springy with a taste of pure vanilla.  The chocolate is the high quality kind that melts into a smooth cocoa butter puddle on your tongue (because this is the time to splurge on the good chocolate).  The three components together are perfection, they way they have been for almost a 100 years not, but here they are elevated into an almost transcendent state.  This is summer dessert perfection, the kind of thing that's worth spending time on.  The kind of thing that makes for an epic summer evening.  

Graham Crackers
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 10 4 x 4.5-inch graham crackers or 48 2-inch squares


2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour (a swap of 1/2 cup with whole wheat flour or 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour works well here, too)
1 cup (176 grams) dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon (6 grams) baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt (4 grams)
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup (114 grams) mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons (77 grams) milk, full-fat is best
2 tablespoons (27 grams) pure vanilla extract


3 tablespoons (43 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams) ground cinnamon

Make the dough: Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. (Alternately, if you don't have a food processor or electric mixer, you can cut the ingredients together with a pastry blender. Just make sure they're very well incorporated.)

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about 2 hours or overnight. Meanwhile, prepare the topping, if using, by combining the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and setting aside.

Roll out the crackers: Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers. (This makes a traditional graham cracker shape.  But you can use a cookie cutter to cut other shapes to make things really pretty.)

Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes in the fridge or 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Finally, gather any scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll.

Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F.

Decorate the crackers: Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough (again, this is for the traditional cracker shape). Using a toothpick or skewer (I like to use the blunt end of a wooden skewer for more dramatic dots), prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

Amazingly Fluffy Marshmallows
Recipe from Gourmet Magazine

About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
½ cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
½ cup hot water (about 115 degrees)
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners' sugar.

In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over cold water and let stand to soften.

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, hot water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F., about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.

With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about 6 minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer. In a large bowl with cleaned beaters beat whites (or reconstituted powdered whites) until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into baking pan and sift 1/4 cup confectioners― sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least 3 hours, and up to 1 day.

Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up 1 corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and let drop onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into roughly 1-inch cubes. Sift remaining confectioners' sugar into a large bowl and add marshmallows in batches, tossing to evenly coat. Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 week.


You may be questioning the addition of sea salt, but don't question it, just try it and report back because I think you will find it to be a genius addition.  

1 graham cracker broken in half
2 marshmallows
2 squares of good quality chocolate (if you just made graham crackers and marshmallows then this is the time to splurge on something other than Hershey bars.  I love Lindt or Theo organic)
A wooden skewer for toasting the marshmallow
Sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Toast the marshmallows until golden brown and melty. If you are not blessed with an outdoor grill or fire pit you can toast the marshmallows over your gas stove (it works amazingly well just watch to make sure they don’t catch on fire.)  Place the marshmallows on the cracker.  Top with the squares of chocolate, a sprinkle of sea salt, and the other graham cracker.  Serve with wet naps because this will get messy in the best possible way. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

latest travel obsession.

I've developed an obsession with AirBnB which if you haven't been on I suggest visiting the site immediately, typing in a random location, and seeing all sorts of beautiful homes pop up that you can stay in.  As someone who has an absurd love affair with spying inside peoples houses (NYC is the place to be if you like things like that) this is a less creepy way of seeing really wonderfully unique houses and really beautiful kitchens (the kitchens are killing me).  

I am warning you now, it will give you the itch to travel. The boy and I are currently plotting a weekend away in Upstate New York in an attempt to escape this heat (and enjoy the last of summer before it gives way to fall).  I am envisioning a weekend spent swimming, antiquing, fruit picking, wine tasting, and lots of eating and hiking and reading the fall fashion magazines. A perfect weekend in my book.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

crostini with zucchini pesto.

I gravitate towards zucchini at the market because they tend to get overlooked when presented next to gorgeous heirloom tomatoes and shinny eggplants (I always have strong feelings of affection towards the underdog).  But then I bring them home and I stare at them in frustration since I don’t know what to do with them.  So I revert to my default - roasted in the oven until they get a little charred and caramelized,  I serve it drizzled with good olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar, crumbled goat cheese, and a sprinkle of shredded basil and flaky sea salt.  It’s a perfectly delicious preparation but a completely unappealing option during a heat wave.  Who wants to roast something when you yourself are already roasting and dripping with sweat in the sweltering hot box you like to call your apartment?  So this week I am breaking up with my oven and eating ice cream for dinner (just kidding Mom!)

I spent a great deal of time finally going through the back log of recipes I save in e-mail folders, bookmark online, and tear out of magazines (can you tell I hoard much?) to find things that don’t involve much actual cooking (i.e. the dreaded oven).  During that search I stumbled upon this zucchini pesto which is a real gem of a recipe.  It involves summer produce! It doesn't involve cooking! I can eat it atop toasted bread! (Because everyone knows everything tastes better on  well toasted bread) It doesn't involve cooking!! (Just wanted to drive that point home in case you missed my level of enthusiasm the first time.)   After making this I came to the conclusion that raw zucchini is a completely under-appreciated thing.  It’s crunchy and sweet and when paired with toasted almonds, salty cheese, and fresh basil, it makes for an unusual and deeply satisfying pesto. 

Follow you crostini dinner with a big bowl of ice cream for dessert.  Heat wave be dammed. 

Crostini with Zucchini Pesto
Recipe adapted from Tasting Table

This pesto is addicting and makes for an incredible dinner on weeks where it is beyond hot out.  No oven involved! If you really wanted to avoid the stove you could not toast the bread, but the toasted bread provides an extra little crunch that is really lovely so I suggest it.  This pesto would be equally lovely a top grilled chicken breasts or salmon filets, or even pasta but I find the toast to be simply wonderful. 

Yields 6 appetizer servings  - about 12 – 18 crostini depending on the size of the bread

3 medium zucchini (about 1 pound) can use yellow or green
2 teaspoons salt plus more to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup shredded basil
½ cup marcona or regular almonds, toasted and finely chopped
Pinch of red pepper flakes
½ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf ciabatta or sourdough baguette cut into ¼ inch slices 

Using a box grater, coarsely grate the zucchini.  Place the shredded zucchini in the middle of a clean kitchen towel or cheese cloth and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of salt.  Let sit for 5 minutes, then squeeze the towel to remove excess moisture.  Repeat until as much liquid as possible has been released, then transfer zucchini to bowl.  (Really squeeze!  You will be amazed at how much water comes out.)

Add the garlic, basil, almonds, red pepper flakes, cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons olive oil to the zucchini; toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and refrigerate for an hour. 

Just before serving, drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the bread and grill or broil the bread until toasted, then let cool. 

Top each slice of bread with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the zucchini pesto (depending on the size of your toasts) and serve immediately. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

dinner tonight.

Sometimes dinner looks like this.  A hodge-podge of different ingredients laid a top well toasted, lightly oiled bread (the well toasted bread is key and the well toasted bread should be high quality bread!)  

It't not fancy but it's utterly satisfying.  It's a way to incorporate a lot of different vegetables, flavors, and textures into a just a couple of bites of food.    

My combinations this evening included ricotta with sun gold tomatoes, flaky sea salt, black pepper and a drizzle of hot honey, avocado with sun gold tomatoes, sea salt and smoked spicy paprika, and raw zucchini pesto with almonds and Parmesan (recipe coming soon!). In my mind, the possibilities are truly endless.  

Is this a conventional dinner?  No.  But it makes for an interesting meal and sometimes that's a nice thing. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

strawberry mint agua fresca.

I'm going to go ahead and state the obvious.  It's hot.  Standing on the subway platform feels like you are waiting at the gate's of hell (or so what I imagine the gates of hell must feel like).  Walking down the street is a game of jumping from one shady spot to the next in an effort to avoid melting into a puddle of salty sweat.  Clothing is unbearable (especially work clothes which are impossible to remain cool in).  Food is even less appealing (it's too hot to chew) which is why when the dog days of summer roll in, I tend to adopt a liquid diet.  I tend to stick with water mostly because I am fairly apprehensive of soda and I'm not completely sold on these pressed juices (how are 6 pounds of kale squeezed into one teeny tiny super expensive bottle?!) but agua fresca is a drink I can get behind when the temperatures hover near 90 degrees.  Agua fresca is a fancy name for fruit juice.  I've seen all sorts of varieties and now is the time to make them at home when the produce is fresh and in season.  My version involves strawberries picked from a roadside market in Maine mixed with some mint for an extra cooling effect.  Served a top a large amount of ice there is nothing more refreshing for a hot summer day (except maybe a spiked version but I'll let you be the judge of that.)

Strawberry Mint Agua Fresca

This is basically a recipe that can you use as a jumping off point for so many other fruits.  Watermelon and basil would make for a lovely combination as would peach and rosemary.  You can also use these juices in a cocktail since spiked juices are always a good thing. (Tequilla would be my liquid of choice but vodka is never a bad thing.)

Makes about 4 cups

6 large strawberries, washed and hulled (about 1 1/2 - 2 cups)

3 1/2 cups of water, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
Juice of 1 lime
8 mint leaves
Ice for serving

Place hulled strawberries in a blender or food processor along with 1/2 cup of water, sugar, lime juice, and 4 mint leaves.  Process until smooth.  Add in the remaining water.  Chill the mixture for at least an hour.

Place ice in glass. Fill the glasses with the agua fresca.  Serve with a mint leave and a wedge of lime.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

new at the market.

Salted butter.  There isn't much else that is needed to accompany a grilled ear of corn.  

While I can't get enough of corn with butter dribbling down my chin and pooling (hopefully) on my plate instead of on my leg, sometimes I want a little something more.  

So this summer I plan on making cheesy polenta with corn and tomatoes (as seen on Not Without Salt's Instagram), corn pizza with bacon and scallions, corn ice cream (or at least making a trip to the Bent Spoon for their version of corn ice cream), and a corn and farro salad with avocado and chipotle.  

But let's be honest, my goal is to get my hands on Thirty Acres grilled corn with miso, browned butter, and lobster mayo and figure out how to recreate it.  ASAP.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

cherry clafoutis.

Come summer time, I like to pretend I'm French.  I spend most of June searching for the perfect nude flat leather sandal and the easiest and simplest loose black cotton dress (because any respectable French woman owns these items) .  The kind of thing that can be dressed up with wedges and dressed down by being barefoot.  Dinners get eaten by the light of the setting sun usually accompanied by chilled glasses of rose and wedges of local cheeses.  Dessert always involves seasonal fruit that is prepared in a way that lets the fruit shine.  Cherry clafoutis is the epitome of rustic French desserts (even the word clafoutis sounds rustic!).  Cherries get suspended in a pudding like batter and as the clafoutis bakes, it puffs up like a pancake, enrobing each cherry in custard.  It's perfection and beyond simple and the kind of thing the begs to be eaten outdoors on hot summer nights. 

Cherry Clafoutis
Recipe is from Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan

1 lb (450 g) sweet cherries, stemmed (you can pit them or leave them unpitted your choice!)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
Pinch of fine grain sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup of whole milk
1/2 cup of heavy cream
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Ensure that your oven rack is centred in the oven.

Generously grease a 9 inch pie or quiche pan with butter.

Place the washed and dried cherries into the prepared baking dish in a single layer.

In a medium bowl whisk the 3 eggs until they are light and frothy. Add in the sugar and beat with a whisk for a minute or so until the sugar has dissolved. Add in the pinch of salt and the vanilla and whisk well. Add in the flour and beat the mixture vigorously until the flour is well incorporated and smooth. Gradually pour in the milk and cream and whisk until well incorporated. Rap the bowl against the counter to release any air bubbles and then pour the batter over the cherries in the prepared baking dish.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 45 minutes until the clafoutis is puffed up and golden brown and when a sharp knife blade inserted into the centre of the clafoutis comes out clean.

Remove from the oven to a cooling rack and allow the clafoutis to cool to room temperature. When you are ready to serve, dust the clafoutis with confectioner’s sugar  by using a fine mesh sieve.

Serves 6.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

new at the market.

Cherry red cherries have arrived.  

I fall hard for cherries.  They are the first of the seasonal fruits that work exceptionally well in both sweet and savory applications.  

For sweet you have cherry pie, cherry almond clafoutis, cherry cornmeal upside down cake, cherry breakfast crumble, .

For savory you have pickled cherries to be thrown in salads, roasted cherry compote atop goat cheese crostini, pork chops with cherry sauce.  

Or you can eat them on road trips.  Popping them in your mouth and shooting the pits out onto the open highway which is how I will be consuming them tomorrow as the boy and I road trip up to Maine.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

all i want.

All I want is to be on vacation somewhere far away from New York City's humidity.  I want to be barefoot in a simple swingy black dress (something like this would be lovely) baking cherry clafoutis and drinking freshly brewed coffee.  I want to be half way through a novel that I find so engaging I can barely tear myself away from the book.  I want to have a stack of fashion magazines waiting to be read next to my bed.  I want to eat tomato, avocado, and burrata tartines for breakfast and lunch (recipe here).  I want to spend my mornings swimming in the sun and my late afternoons napping to the sounds of summer thundershowers.  I want to not have a schedule or plan or a list of things that have to be done.  I want to eat ice cream.  I want to be calm.  I want to be in this kitchen. 

This kitchen is perfection.  

Image via Pinterest.

Monday, July 1, 2013

miso glazed salmon.

A lot of what we eat for dinner each evening stems from me Googling random ingredients and seeing what recipes come up.  This is not always conducive to having a successful dinner (blue cheese, tortillas, and cucumbers surprisingly doesn't come up with much).  Usually, this method leads to absurd meals but some days you need meals like that in an effort to clean out the fridge before things go bad.  (I know I can't be the only one who has this issue.) On occasion I stumble upon a recipe that has me questioning why I don't try cooking like this every night especially once I discover a recipe like this miso glazed salmon that is absurdly good (and easy!).  

This recipe search came about because I have the tendency to buy ingredients that I use for a specific recipe and then sometimes forget about (I have a terrible memory).  The boy likes to remind me of these tendencies every time I have us searching for some obscure item and every time he does that I like to remind him it will get used (I just don't specify exactly when it will happen).  So when I was searching through the fridge and saw the container of miso languishing in the back, I figured it was time to use it again before I heard him give me an earful.  A quick search for salmon (on sale at Whole Foods!) and miso led me to this recipe and I couldn't be happier with the results.  Miso is flavor-bomb ingredient (also known as a umami ingredient) and when paired with ginger and salmon you have one of the most flavorful glazes for fish ever (or for anything else you may find yourself pairing it with, I strongly suggest green beans and sugar snap peas).  

Miso Glazed Salmon
Recipe adapted (barely) via Bon Appetit

Serves 4

The original recipe calls for bone in salmon steaks but I find that salmon fillet works just as well (if not better).  Feel free to use either because really you could put this glaze on anything and people will devour it and you will have extra miso mixture which I strongly suggest using on vegetables.  White miso can be found at Asian supermarkets in the refridgerated section.  There are many types of miso but I suggest white miso the first time you buy it since it the mildest one.  

1 side, skin-on wild sockeye salmon fillet, about 1 1/2 pounds (pin bones removed)
1/3 cup white miso
2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese rice wine)
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger (or grated on a microplane)
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
4 lime wedges for serving
Sesame seeds and cilantro for garnish (optional)

Line a rimed baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil.  Lightly brush with vegetable oil.  Place salmon filet on the baking sheet, skin side down.  Whisk miso, mirin, rice vinegar, ginger, and sesame oil in a bowl to blend.  Spread the miso mixture over the salmon fillet so the whole thing is evenly coated.  Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes or in the fridge for up to an hour.  

Position an oven rack 6"-8" from broiler and preheat. Broil salmon, turning once, until golden brown and just opaque in center, 10-12 minutes total (or until an instant read thermometer reaches a temperature of 131 degrees.  Let salmon rest 5 minutes.  Top with minced cilantro and sesame seeds if desired. Serve with lime wedges.