Tuesday, June 28, 2016

drum roll...

Houseplant Trends Calathea:

I've been making an effort to clean out the kitchen cabinets because we bought a house (OK an apartment)! Not officially (yet) but half our life savings is sitting in an escrow account, we have a loan commitment, and we found a contractor to help us with a little renovation. It's weird, strange, and exciting how everything is coming along.  

Our weekends have evolved.  We've been taking road trips to antique filled towns, paint shops, and Home Depot.  On Sunday I spent a couple of hours Mr. Cleaning the crap out of two vintage Bertoia for Knoll chairs that now look brand new (Mr. Clean magic erasers are actually magically). I've been dreaming on tulip tables and gold wallpaper and tile.   It's overwhelming, fun, and an incredible learning experience.    
dining room:
I'm fortunate that I have a sister who is an interior designer with the most excellent taste and access to all sorts of wonderful things.  Faucets in brass, cement bathroom tiles, fabrics that look like fluffy sheep, the list goes on. She's been great at helping my hone in on a vision and figure out how to optimize the space so it looks and feels the best.   And I'm hoping Mama Bear will give me two of her paintings (that I LOVE).  I keep dreaming about them on the wall.   I have a vision in my head and it looks so good.     

But the best part of all of this is building a home with Tyler and our pup.  Something that feels adultish with a dash of whimsy.   Tyler is really good at envisioning things, re-purposing things, and figuring out how to maximize what we already have.   He brings balance to the situation and (sometimes) a little balance is good.   

So in addition to food, I'm going to use this space to talk about renovations, the merits of honed vs. polished marble, how to find a good wallpaper installer, and so many other things.  It's going to be fun and probably a little messy, but we're excited.   Let the adventure begin.  

A Gray Apartment:


Alessandra Salaris — Beppe Brancato:

Prediction Confirmed: Here's the New Gray:

Bench/table/fur. @thecoveteur:

Its a modern version of what I have in my head, but this is almost exactly my dream bathroom.  Add a little Art Deco touches and voila! <3 :)    Läderfabriken Apartment Development / Stockholm, Sweden.:

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

oatmeal pancakes.

I am for the most part, a savory breakfast fan.  Give me cheesy scrambled eggs and toast over waffles any day. But once every couple of weeks, I get a hankering for pancakes

I love pancakes for their crisp edges and impossibly fluffy interiors, but I generally feel as if I can eat a stack 3 feet tall and never feel full.   While absolutely delicious, they lack sustenance, the stuff that I need to actually stop eating. Which is why, when I stumbled across this recipe for oatmeal pancakes, I felt as if I finally found my ideal pancake.

These are the slightly more indulgent version of your daily bowl of oatmeal.  Oats two ways get combined with your standard pancake ingredients to produce (in my humble opinion) the perfect pancake (a big statement I know).  Served with whatever fruit is at its peak (currently strawberries and raspberries) and an excessive amount of pure maple syrup, you have a pretty awesome breakfast that manages to straddle the line between healthy and extravagant.   

Oatmeal Pancakes
Recipe tweaked from Good to the Grain

Makes about 18 pancakes

3/4 cup oat flour (you can make this by pulsing rolled oats into a food processor or spice grinder until finely ground; 1 cup of oats yielded 3/4 cup oat flour for me)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or coarse salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (plus extra for the pan)
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 cup cooked oatmeal*
1 tablespoon unsulphured (not blackstrap) molasses, honey, maple syrup
2 large eggs

Whisk the dry ingredients (oat flour, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) together in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk the butter, milk, cooked oatmeal, honey and eggs together until thoroughly combined. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Using a light hand is important for tender pancakes; the batter should be slightly thick with a holey surface.

Heat a 10-inch cast-iron pan or griddle over medium heat until water sizzles when splashed onto the pan. Lower to medium-low. Rub the pan generously with butter; the key to crisp, buttery edges. Working quickly, dollop 1/4-cup mounds of batter onto the pan, 2 or 3 at a time. Once bubbles have begun to form on the top side of the pancake, flip the pancake and cook until the bottom is dark golden-brown, about 5 minutes total. Wipe the pan with a cloth before griddling the next pancake. Continue with the rest of the batter.

Serve the pancakes hot, straight from the skillet or keep them warm in a low oven. We also found these to reheat surprisingly well the next morning, again in a low oven.

Do ahead: Although the batter is best if using immediately, it can sit for up to 1 hour on the counter or overnight in the refrigerator. When you return to the batter, it will be very thick and should be thinned, one tablespoon at a time, with milk. Take care not to overmix.

* Make oatmeal, if you don’t have any leftover: Bring 1 cup water and a slightly heaped 1/2 cup of rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick-cooking) and a pinch of salt to a boil and simmer on low for 1 (quick-cooking) to 5 minutes (old-fashioned), until thick. Let cool. This can also be cooked in a microwave.

Monday, June 13, 2016

bourbon chile sweet and smoky bbq chicken.

BBQ chicken is quintessential summer eating that I have the tendency to avoid.  It's not that I don't love BBQ chicken slathered in a tomato based sauce, it's just that most BBQ sauce is awful.

So awful.

Sauce where the only flavor is sugar (I'll save my sugar for dessert thank you very much).  Most are one dimensional and lack the complexity that I would expect from something that could be loaded with any number of exciting flavors.

Like this sauce which is chock-full of pretty much everything I find delicious in this world - namely bourbon, peaches, and chile.  The chicken gets marinated in part of sauce overnight which helps to tenderize and inject it with flavor.  The next day you cook it and baste it with more sauce.  The resulting chicken is tender, flavorful, and incredibly addicting.  It's BBQ chicken you will actually want to eat.   

Bourbon Chile Sweet and Smoky BBQ Chicken

Recipe from Tasting Table

For the BBQ Sauce

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ small yellow onion, minced
1- 2 red Thai chile—stemmed, seeded and minced
⅔ cup ketchup
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup bourbon
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons peach preserves
1 tablespoon honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Chicken

One 3-to-4-pound chicken, broken down into 8 pieces
1½ cups bourbon-chile barbecue sauce, divided (it will use all the BBQ sauce you make)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Make the BBQ Sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion and chile, and cook until lightly golden, 8 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until thickened, 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely before using to marinate or baste.  Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Marinate the Chicken:  In a plastic bag, combine the chicken and ¾ cup of the barbecue sauce. Seal the bag closed and massage the barbecue sauce onto the chicken. Refrigerate overnight.

Cook the Chicken: The next day, light a grill. Remove the chicken and scrape off any barbecue sauce on the skin. Rub the chicken with the vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken on the grill, skin-side down, and cook, flipping once, until charred, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Brush with the remaining barbecue sauce, then transfer to a cooler spot on the grill. Cook, covered, until the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 160º and the barbecue sauce has caramelized, 10 minutes more. Transfer to a platter and let rest 5 minutes, then serve.

Alternatively, if you are not blessed with a grill, this can be made in the oven via the Smitten Kitchen method.   Simply place pieces of chicken on two very large pieces of foil, large enough to fold over chicken and form packets.  Turn the chicken pieces so their meatier sides are down, and tightly fold the foil around them to make two large packets.

Place two cooling racks (which will act as baking racks) on two baking sheets (one on each). Place a chicken packet on each and place one sheet on an upper oven rack and one on a lower. Bake chicken for 1 hour, then rotate baking sheets. Bake for another 30 to 60 minutes, until the internal temperature of the thickest part of each chicken reads 155 degrees.  Finish the chicken by heating the broiler. Carefully open each packet of chicken and discard accumulated juices. Arrange chicken pieces on open foil packets, coat with additional BBQ sauce, and run each tray under the broiler until lightly crisped at edges and cooked through. Place on serving platter.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

roasted rhubarb pavlova.

After tackling my first pavolva a couple of weeks back, I can't think of any dessert that is more fitting to usher in summer.  

Pavlova is a traditional Australian dessert and it's a fitting match.  Australia (at least in my head) is the land of eternal summer so a national dessert that is incredibly light and refreshing feels appropriate.      

For those unfamiliar with the gloriousness that is pavolva, it is essentially a meringue with crispy exterior and a soft and fluffy like marshmallow interior, covered in whipped cream and fruit.   This version uses caramelized roasted rhubarb as the fruit of choice and it's a brilliant decision.  The combination of tart and tender rhubarb with a sweet and crispy/creamy meringue is irresistible and incredibly seasonally appropriate.   

Roasted Rhubarb Pavlova
Recipe from Sweeter Off the Vine

Some things to note - This is a dessert that once assembled, needs to be eaten ASAP.  All components can be prepared ahead of time, but if you want more then a couple of hours to eat the pavlova once assembled it looses its crisp exterior and the crisp exterior is an important part of the dish.  

I omitted the addition of whipped cream as I didn't have cream on hand and also didn't feel it needed it (shocking I know).  The choice is yours.  It will be excellent no matter what.   

I also think it would be adorable to make individual pavlovas instead of one large one if you were serving them as part of a dinner party!

For the Meringue

1 cup (200g) superfine sugar
11⁄2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 large egg whites
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract 
1 teaspoon white vinegar

For the Rhubarb

12 ounces (340g) rhubarb stalks, leaves removed
1 vanilla bean
1⁄3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
Pinch salt
Juice of 1⁄2 lemon (about 4 teaspoons)

For Serving

1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

Directions for the Meringue: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 225ºF (110ºC). Trace an 8-inch circle onto a piece of parchment paper and flip the paper upside down on a baking sheet.

To make the meringue: Stir the cornstarch and sugar together in a small bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a handheld electric mixer in a large bowl, beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar on medium high speed until soft peaks form. Turn the mixer up to high and with the mixer running, slowly add the sugar mixture about one tablespoon at a time and whip until the egg whites are stiff and glossy, about 7 minutes. Add the vanilla and vinegar and mix for 30 more seconds.

Dollop the meringue onto the prepared baking sheet and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly to the edges of the traced circle. Make a shallow (1⁄2-inch) indent in the center of the meringue leaving a 1-inch border around the edges; this will hold the rhubarb and whipped cream. Bake the meringue for 1 to 11⁄2 hours or until the outside looks dry and slightly creamy in color. Turn off the oven and prop the door ajar with a wooden spoon. Let the meringue cool completely in the oven. It should feel firm and crackly when you press it, but will be soft and marshmallowy in the center. When cooled, you should be able to gently peel it off of the parchment paper and place it on a serving platter or cake stand. The meringue can be prepared a day in advance and stored in an airtight container.

Directions for the Rhubarb: Preheat the oven to 375º (190ºC). Cut the rhubarb stalks into 3-inch lengths. Use the tip of a knife to split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. In a baking dish large enough to hold the rhubarb in a single layer, toss the cut rhubarb with the vanilla bean seeds, sugar, salt, and lemon juice; tuck the vanilla bean pod in among the rhubarb. Bake until the rhubarb is soft and juicy but not falling apart, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then remove the vanilla bean pod, rinse it off, and save it for another use.

Directions for Assembly: Whip the cream and sugar together to stiff peaks. Top the cooled meringue with the whipped cream, then the cooled roasted rhubarb pieces. Finish by drizzling with the pomegranate molasses and any rhubarb juices left in the baking pan. Slice into wedges and serve immediately.