Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Julia Child's Chocolate Souffle

Ryan and I get the itch to make an epic meal every now and then. Christmas Eve seemed the perfect excuse for just such a cooking feat. We started with appetizers- stuffed mushrooms, then moved on to a delish entree, pasta with mushroom and white wine and butter sauce- and of course, for the finale, decided to attempt the piece de resistance, chocolate souffle!

Now I love to bake, so souffle seemed a challenge, but nothing beyond the pale. I will caution, however, that the dishes are not few, and the time and effort is intense. But the end product? Does it RISE to the occasion? Well... see for yourself!

Chocolate Souffle: A recipe from the one and only Julia Child herself!


To coat the souffle dish:
butter, softened but NOT melted

For the chocolate flavoring:
7 oz. Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate
1/3 cup strong coffee or espresso

For the base:
1.3 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
3 tbsp butter softened, not melted
1 tbsp vanilla

For the whites:
6 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar


1. Prepare the souffle dish by generously coating it with soft butter and sprinkling in sugar. Tip the souffle dish to coat the entire inner surface with the sugar, and tap out any excess.

2. Place the rack in your oven to the lowest third and preheat to 425 degrees.

3. In a small saucepan, melt 7 ounces of semi-sweet baking chocolate with 1/3 cup of coffee.

4. In a separate, larger saucepan, heat up 1 cup milk and whisk in the flour, blending well. Slowly add in the rest of the milk and 1/3 cup of sugar. Bring to a slow boil and whisk for 2 min. Remove from heat.

5. Beat in 3 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp vanilla, a pinch of salt, 4 egg yolks, and the melted chocolate mixture.

6. Whip the 6 egg whites to stiff peaks. Add in 1/2 cup sugar once they are foamy.

Now, let's talk seriously about this "whip to stiff but not dry peaks' business. It is a terrifying instruction in any recipe, wrought with problems and causing of much angst, but no worries, it can be done!! Here's how:

In a large bowl, the best is of copper, (if you have that kind of fancy stuff lying around), but I use ceramic or pyrex- have the 6 egg whites reserved and ready to whip.

A. Start with room temperature eggs.

B. Use a long-handled whisk and any bowl, so long as it is not aluminum or plastic. The eggs react best with copper, but poorly if there is any grease in the bowl or on the mixing elements, so clean everything well.

C. MAke sure the bowl is significantly larger than the eggs you start with, as they will gain volume as you whip them.

D. It would take approximately 900 strokes- or a little over 6 minutes- to whip 6 egg whites by hand. Trust me, the first 100 feel fine. It's the next 800 that will suck. Also, in the beginning, you can be slow and relaxed- until it's foamy, but to finish the job, you are going to have to get some seriously fast whipping on, and for a sustained period of time. *Insert pervy joke here* Remember, once you start, you cannot stop.

E. Here's what we did: We started off by hand, and then once they were foamy (see photo), I switched to my magic wand cuisinart stick using a whisk attachment*. This was THE way to go. This is also the time to start slowly adding in the sugar, as it will help the peaks to form.

*This is by far my favorite and most used kitchen gadget- if you do not own one, you can use a regular hand held beater with whisk attachment too.

F. You will know you have reached the correct level of 'stiff peaks' when they stand up, and do not wilt back down. Stop as soon as this effect is observed- it is a myth that you should whip them until they are SO stiff that the bowl can be inverted- this is too much in the case of the souffle!! If for some reason they just wont stiffen up (sigh, can't get away from the innuendo),then a pinch of salt or splash of lemon might do the trick.

7. Combine the base with the whipped eggs by ladling the base sauce into the whipped egg bowl, and combing and folding rapidly until thoroughly blended together.

8. Pour mixture immediately into mold, and put in oven. Turn the heat down to Bake @400 for about 40 minutes, or until the puff rises (hopefully). DO NOT OPEN the oven door during the first 20 minutes. Walk lightly as you pass by. Test for doneness with a toothpick or skewer inserted at 45 degrees, it should come out clean. Dust with powdered sugar and serve- the 'puff' will only last about 3 minutes or so once it is out of the oven, so snap a photo and quick serve it! (with homemade whip cream, of course!!)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Stuffed Mushrooms

I love this appetizer! Ryan and I made this as our first course for our Christmas Eve Dinner. It goes great with champagne!

24 White stuffer mushrooms
1 large bag Spinach
1 medium-size block Gruyere cheese, cut into small, thin pieces
1 Shallot
3 cloves garlic
Bread crumbs
Olive oil
1 tblsp Butter
Salt and pepper
White wine

1. Clean the mushrooms, removing the stem, and carefully preserving the shape of the cap. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large saute pan, melt the butter and olive oil together over low heat. Add in shallots and garlic, and cook until translucent and aromatic. Add in a splash of chicken or vegetable stock and white wine, and allow to cook off.

3. Add in the spinach and stir to wilt. Add in salt, pepper, and lemon.

4. Add in cheese and herbs and melt together.

5. Place mushroom caps on baking sheets. Spoon the spinach and cheese mixture into the caps and sprinkle some bread crumbs on top.

6. Bake 10 minutes, allowing the cheese and bread crumbs to brown on top!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tofu Masala

I didn't make the sauce for this recipe, but I really hope to learn how soon. But after a long day, it's niiiiiice to make a meal with only 3 ingredients and a 25 minute cook time, and in just one dish.

The important lesson I learned from this recipe is how delish baked tofu can be! I had no idea it could be this easy!

1 jar butter masala or tikka masala sauce
veggies: carrots, asparagus, etc

Step 1: Drain tofu and cut into thin square blocks. Pat dry. Set in a baking dish. Sprinkle veggies on side.

Step 2: Get a jar of this yummy butter masala sauce, or similar, from your local grocer, and pour it all over the tofu. Splash a little water or a add a small amount of oil or butter. Mix it up and coat the top well.

Step 3: Bake for about 25 minutes.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dumpling Soup

The Mr. Dever made this happen, and wow! Delicious. I craved it for days. Winter Classic!

For Soup:

3 cups Chicken or Veggie Stock
3 Cups Water
Carrots, sliced
Celery, sliced
Red Skin potatoes (cut into small pieces)
1-2 shallots
poultry seasoning
salt & pepper to taste

For dumplings:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 egg
parsley and other fresh herbs, as desired

1. Combine stock and water in large pot. Add potatoes and bring to rolling boil.

2. In separate small saute pan, sweat the shallot in butter, cooking until transparent and aromatic over low heat. Add in the celery and carrot, salt and pepper and poultry seasoning and cook until soft.

3. Once potatoes are tender, add in vegetable mix to stock and cook 12-20 minutes on a simmer.

4. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.

5. In a measuring cup, crack the egg and add enough water to equal 1 cup. whisk.

6. Gradually combine the egg and water mixture into the flour, mixing the dough until it is smooth and no longer sticky. Fold in the chives. Add additional flour or water as needed to adjust the consistency.

7. When the soup is ready, make sure it stays at a simmer, and spread the dumpling batter out on a cutting board. Hold the board over the water, and using a pizza dough scraper or knife, cut in strips of the dough. Use a slotted spoon to float them toward the top of the soup. Cover the pot and cook, about 8-10 minutes. Test for doneness by bringing to side of the pot and using a fork to see if the dumpling is firm.

Deglaze the veggie pan with a little water and mix into the soup right before serving.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chicken/Chik'N Dijonnaise: a Flexitarian recipe!

One of my favorite fall recipes from back in my meat-eating phase was chicken dijonnaise. Ryan has also made it with pork, too. I've tried it with tofu, but something about the mustard and the jus didn't work quite right- so this time, I used some frozen seitan "chicken breasts", to much better result! I'm not the biggest fan of the smeats, but sometimes, they are necessary additions to meals!! Whether you make it with real chicken or not... enjoy!

dijon mustard- about 2-3 tbsp
a grainy mustard- 2 tbsp
a third- spicy, champagne, etc- optional, 1 tbsp
white wine- a healthy pour
chicken (veg) stock- about 1/4 cup
fresh/dried herbs- thyme, sage, rosemary, chopped finely
salt & pepper
1/2 tbsp butter
heavy cream- for sauce

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. In a bowl, stir together the different mustards, the butter, herbs, stock, wine, and salt and pepper.
3. Pour the mixture over the chicken/Chik'N and turn several times to coat
3. Bake 30-40 minutes.
4. When done, remove chicken/Chik'N pieces to a baking dish and put in low oven to keep warm. Carefully pour juices and scrape mustard mixture from baking dish into saucepan over low heat. Pour some heavy cream into mixture, and a little more wine. Reduce over medium heat, salt and pepper to taste. You will know it's good to go when it turns a darker color, and by the smell. You should be able to smell the wine cooking through the cream.

Serve with green beans and red new potatoes or other sides and pour the sauce on top!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

So, after I cooked up a whole pumpkin, I had... whole lot of pumpkin. I used some of it for pie, I used some of it Curried winter squash soup (check it out here), and I still had some leftover. So I did the only other pumpkin-y thing I could think of. I made bread!!

You can use any squash or sweet potato in place of the pumpkin!! Preheat to 350 degrees.

In a medium-sized bowl combine & whisk, then set aside:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice

In a separate bowl combine and set aside:
1/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Cream in a large bowl by beating until fluffy:
3/4 stick of butter (6 tblsp)
1 tsp mayonnaise (seriously- keeps it moist for-ev-er!)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar

Beat in one at a time:
2 large eggs

Then beat in:
1 cup pumpkin or other squash puree

Then add in the flour mixture slowly, and drizzle in the milk each time. Fold in 3/4 cup of chocolate chips at the very end.

Bake in a loaf pan, about 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pumpkin Pie: Updated for 2011!

I've been making pumpkin pie for several years now. It's been a pain sometimes, but I've learned how to make it easier over the years- and I am embarrassed that I once said canned was just as good- I'm NOT going back to Libby's.

So, here is the new and IMPROVED 2011 pumpkin pie recipe!

This time I decided to try a local Long Island heirloom pumpkin variety, known as the cheese pumpkin. The name is not a comment on flavor, but on the shape and color- which resembles a wheel of cheese. (Sure, if you squint.) So we'll see how it turns out!

To make the Pumpkin Puree:

Step 1: Cut it- Cut the pumpkin in half, and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Cut into several (4-6) large chunks. Use a fork to punch some holes in the skin. Lightly oil and place on a baking sheet, flesh up or to the side.

Step 2: Cook the Crap out of it. I roasted it at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. You want to be able to peel off the skin and easily scrape out the flesh with a spoon. Make sure it is nice and soft before you pull it out. I know it is possible to steam it, too, but I have never tried. And I think roasting adds a little flavor.

Step 3: Peel out the goo. Sexy.

Step 4: Puree with blender. I use a magic wand, but the goal of a smoother, silkier texture can be achieved with a regular blender. (HIGHLY recommend the wand, such a major time saver!!)

Step 5: Let sit in a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl for about 30 minutes to drain off any water.

Step 6: Make the pie

1 1/2 cups pastry flour
1 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
5-6 tablespoons ice water

Combine flour & salt with a whisk. Add in butter and combine with a fork until crumbly. Drizzle water and shape into a ball. Refrigerate in Saran wrap for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. (My oven runs HOT. Some folks do this @ 425)

2 eggs (no clue why I ever used 4 in the past- way too many!!) Whisked
2 cups pumpkin puree
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

(Tip: If it's dried out, moisten your hands and hold for a minute and it will soften up! Or for a larger quantity, moisten a cutting board and let the dried out pieces sit on top for a few minutes!!)

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground clove or allspice (Or 2 1/2 tsps of pumpkin spice)
1/2 tsp salt
Splash of Vanilla

Mix the ingredients together with a hand blender or beater. Line pie shell with dough. Make sure to use any extra dough around the edges- for this particular pie, they tend to burn more easily. I taste the batter at this point, and adjust seasonings if need be. Pour batter into the pie shell.

Bake for 45-55 minutes @400 until a toothpick comes out clean from the middle.

If you still have some extra crust, which I usually do, go ahead and make some 'crust cookies'- mine are usually heart shaped- and throw them in the oven to get golden and crispy for the last 20-30 minutes the pie bakes. Then serve the pieces with fresh whipped cream and a crust cookie. Yeah. That's where it's at.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pickled Peppers

1 pound fresh jalapeno, italian peppers or sweet peppers, washed
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups vinegar (I used white distilled vinegar, it is definitely pucker-y, next time I might try cider)
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons coarse salt, such as kosher
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons black peppercorns

1. Stab each pepper several times with a sharp paring knife or cut into slices and place them in a large glass preserving jar.

2. In a non-reactive saucepan, bring the other ingredients to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes.

3. Remove from heat and pour the brine over the peppers. Place the lid on the jar and let cool. Once cool, refrigerate for at least a week before using, if possible.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

apple ginger spice cookies

I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but I really did follow it right out of vegetarian times!! I highly recommend their publications- many of my recipes are inspired from them!!

Makes 20 4-inch cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup turbinado for rolling cookies
1 large apple, peeled and finely diced (1 cup)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter baking sheets.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large bowl.

3. Whisk together oil, applesauce, and molasses in separate large bowl. Whisk in 3/4 cup sugar. Stir in flour mixture with spatula. Fold in diced apple.

4. Place remaining 1/2 cup sugar in bowl. Roll 1/4 cup dough into ball, then roll ball in sugar. Repeat with remaining dough. Place balls on prepared baking sheets. Don't be sugar shy- this makes the cookies less tacky and easier to roll, in addition to tasting deeeeelicious.

5. Put baking sheets in oven, and bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until tops of cookies are dry and bottoms are golden brown. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Couscous Salad

1 box Near East couscous (I like the parmesan and olive oil)
olive oil
red wine vinegar
cherry tomato
shallot or red onion
red pepper
(optional: tofu, feta, cucumber)
salt & pepper

1. Prepare the couscous according to the package. Fluff with a fork.
2. Combine in a bowl the couscous and vegetables.
3. Toss in the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and lemon
4. Let sit for about an hour!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Chipotle Chive Cheddar Cheese Dip

1/2 cup greek plain yogurt
1 tblsp mayo
2-3 tblsp sour cream
squirt of lime
1-2 small cloves of garlic
pinch salt
1 cup cheddar chive cheese (cotswold)
1 adobo pepper
1 chipotle pepper
(If dried, heat @ 400 for 5 minutes, remove stems and seeds and soak in hot water)
small drizzle of pepper soaking water

1. Heat the peppers, remove stem and seeds for soaking.
2. Put small chunks of the cheese in food processor and blend.
3. Blend in the yogurt, sour cream, and mayonnaise, and garlic.
4. Slowly add in a small piece of chipotle and adobo pepper. This part needs to be done to taste as the pepper can get quite spicy.
5. Adjust heat with lime, add more sour cream if need be.
6. puree to desired smoothness!!

We served it with diced radish for dipping and it was delish!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Apple Pie

Ah, apples. What other symbol of fall is more awesome or delicious?? And apple pie... well that's just heaven, isn't it?

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
5-6 tablespoons ice water

Combine flour & salt with a whisk. Add in butter and combine with a fork until crumbly. Drizzle water and shape into a ball. Refrigerate in Saran wrap for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. (My oven runs HOT. Some folks do this @ 425)

5-6 large apples, peeled and cut into wedges (about 2 lbs)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tblsp flour
squeeze lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch brown sugar, too

Roll out dough, add filling to center, and top with dollops of butter. Then complete with lattice crust. Place a baking sheet under the pie and Bake @ 400 for about 30 minutes, checking crust to make sure it is not burning.

Turn down to 350 degrees for an additional 30 minutes. Basically, over an hour, let the pie cook, removing the baking sheet for the last 20 minutes or so if the pie is not yet bubbling, turning the heat down farther if the crust starts to burn. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar on the top right before the end of baking.

Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Concord Grape & Pear Pie

Our latest CSA pickup included some concord grapes, which I decided to turn into a pie. I thought about jelly, but then figured... I have some pears, and a dinner party to go to... so... why not pie?

The process has a few extra steps, but it's well worth it!!

1 1/2 cups pastry flour
1 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
5-6 tablespoons ice water

Combine flour & salt with a whisk. Add in butter and combine with a fork until crumbly. Drizzle water and shape into a ball. Refrigerate in Saran wrap for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. (My oven runs HOT. Some folks do this @ 425)

5-6 bunches concord grapes*
4 pears
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tblsp cornstarch
squeeze lemon juice
Generous Sprinkle of Cinnamon

*First, separate the skins off the grapes. A light squeeze at the end opposite of the stem should be enough to pop out the pulp. Keep each in a separate bowl. Heat the pulps in a small pot, until boiling, for about 5 minutes. Then, mash in a strainer to remove the seeds. Combine the mashed pulps with the skins.

Add in the pears, and then add the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and lemon to this mixture, let sit in the fridge for about 10 minutes.

Roll out dough, add filling to center, and top with dollops of butter. Then complete with lattice crust. Bake @ 400 for 20-30 minutes, checking crust for burning. Some folks brush butter or milk on top of the crust, this works too. Then turn down to 325 degrees for an additional 30 minutes. Basically, over an hour, let the pie cook, and turn down the oven when the crust burns at that degree. This is an art and not a science, and so I suggest checking the pie about every ten minutes!

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream, and garnish with sprigs of mint!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pasta with Mushrooms in a White Wine Sauce

An amazing savory sauce for any type of stuffed pasta (butternut squash or portobello raviolis, etc) or for Ryan and other carnivores, on top of chicken or beef!

baby bella, hen of the woods, shitake, portobello mushrooms, or other, cut into small pieces
Asparagus tips
white wine (2/3-3/4 cup or so)
1 tbsp lemon juice (I'm squeezing a wedge...)
1 or 2 shallots
3 large or 5 small cloves garlic
chicken or vegetable stock (3/4- 1cup)
olive oil
heavy cream
pecorino & parmeggiano cheese
rosemary, chive, parsley, sage (your choice of blend!)
salt & pepper

1. sear & brown mushrooms in small amount of butter over very high heat. (optional: press with bottom of a pan to get a crisper texture)

2. Turn down heat to low and add in shallots and garlic. Add a small amount of olive oil to the butter, add additional butter if need be. (Don't be shy here.) Sweat the onion and garlic slowly so they turn translucent.

3. Add in parsley, rosemary and any other herbs to pan and crush with spoon into the oil/butter/garlic/shallot mixture. Cook until greens are soft and wilted.

4. Add in fresh lemon juice and dry white wine to mixture, and allow wine to reduce off until down to about half of the original amount. Add in chicken stock and continue to reduce. Add in asparagus tips now as well.

5. Add in cream, slowly, to desired amount (I go light on this, actually) and grated pecorino and parmesan cheese, and add pepper & salt to taste. Here it becomes all about tasting the flavor and adjusting as desired to create a balance between the cream, garlic, wine, and stock.

6. To adjust the texture of the sauce, thin with pasta water or thicken with a little flour.

7. Drain pasta (saving water for thinning and for storage of any leftovers!) And toss 2 servings of pasta right in the sauce in the pan, allow to cook for a minute or two before serving.

8. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve over whatever pasta you'd like!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sidewalk Cafe

Sometimes amazing meals sneak up on you. Not just the food, but the fun. A bite to eat with friends from work turns into an evening of laughter, and the food just matches the mood. Sidewalk Cafe-recently reopened and remodeled- offered an amazing menu with a ton of veggie-friendly choices. A special of Cauliflower Curry soup, several great salads, a quinoa veggie burger,truffle mac and cheese and veg nachos, a house-made mushroom ravioli, tuna melt and grilled tilapia entrees.. it was a treasure trove of good things.

The happy hour from 5-8 makes prices just right- and a really decent glass of chianti was only $4.

We started with 3 appetizers, shared by the table- nachos, mozzarella sticks, and truffle mac. The nachos were really yummy- with large, fresh cuts of avocado, a light crema cheese on top, and the right ratio of topping to chips. The mac was super delish, with a hint of truffle and crumbled barbecue chips on top for an added flavor and crispy texture.

My entree was great- the mushroom ravioli- with fresh asparagus spears and pecorino cheese. It bordered on being close to too salty, but it packed a ton of flavor and was truly flavorful.

Everyone else was really happy with their picks too- my meat eating friends sampled sandwiches of pulled pork and turkey burgers.

In a town where sometimes its tough to find a place just to have dinner- this was the perfect neighborhood stop!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Salad Provencale

Ever since our trip to France this past spring, I have been fixated on my new favorite salad- the salad provencale. (The C should have that little squiggly goat beard-shaped line underneath, but I'm not sophisticated enough to know how to create that). Anyhoo, It is delicious, and for me, the equivalent of a power lunch.

mixed greens
tuna in water
haricots verts (french green beans), steamed
potatoes, boiled and cooled
cannellini beans
egg, hardboiled
capers or olives
salt and pepper

I'm sure the french didn't make it this way, but here's my cheat:

1 capful of creamy caesar from Newman's mixed with a dollop of dijon mustard, a little of the water the tuna came in, and the juice from the tomatoes.... Add a tiny bit of olive oil as well.

Combine the vegetables and toss in a bowl. Lightly top with dressing.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pancakes: A Dear John to Aunt Jemima


We both knew this day would come. Don't blame your difficult to pronounce preservatives and mystery ingredients. It's not your fault you aren't the natural woman I need you to be. We've had a long, long, wonderful thing here, spanning childhood memories and college nights. But it's time we go our separate ways. It's not you, it's me. I just need something more real, something I've made myself from scratch. I hope you can forgive me.


So good. Pre-make ziploc bags with the dry mix to save time in the morning!!
Serves 4!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar

1 1/2 cups milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tblsp vanilla


In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. We double sifted to make the pancakes fluffier.

In a separate bowl, whisk the milk and butter into the egg.

Make a well in the center of the dry mix and pour in the milk, egg and melted butter; mix until smooth.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Grill that, too

My new mantra for pretty much everything, especially as summer continues to heat up, is: "I think we can grill that". The result is that we have shifted many food items that we traditionally made in the oven to the grill- and with results so delicious, I think the transition might be permanent. It also is really fun and satisfying to turn the grill- so long the land of MEAT MEAT MEAT into a tool for veggie heaven. A few things to try:

Grilled Quesadillas

Check out my quesadilla post from last summer for a recipe for zucchini quesadillas- but really, the filling doesn't matter, it's the grillin'! I used to slave over a pan on the stovetop to make these, but a little tinfoil and a trip to the grill adds a ton of flavor and saves a lot of time! Watch carefully so they do not burn, and flip them once or twice to get an even cook on both sides!

Grilled Pizza

A friend of ours (Brian!) introduced us to the idea of grilling pizza over a year ago, but for some reason we held off on trying it ourselves until this summer- and wooooaaah nelly! Forget the 500 degree oven I call for in my red pepper pizza recipe- and use the grill instead. It's so simple: prepare the dough for the crust on a piece of oiled tinfoil, and then complete with your chosen sauce and toppings. Grill open-faced until ingredients soften and cheese melts, again, checking the bottom to make sure it does not burn. I found it develops a flavor that mimics the wood-oven taste of many artisinal pizza shops, so I'm going this route even when there's snow outside!! (SOme folks will try and sell you a pizza stone for your grill, I'm sure that is good, too, but tinfoil works juuuusst fine).

Grilled Potatoes

Forget oven roasting! Dice red/white/purple creamer potatoes into equal-sized, small pieces, then place on tinfoil. Generously season with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, fresh sprigs of rosemary, and garlic cloves, and bundle in the foil. Grill until the potatoes are tender.

Grilled Corn

Again, I will never stick corn in a pot of boiling water ever again. My original recipe for grilled corn calls for the slightly fancy-pants technique of partially peeling back the husk, removing the silk, and then leaving on for grilling. For a more simple approach, simply remove the husk and silks completely as normal, wrap in tinfoil, and throw it on the grill. Some recipes also call for soaking, but we skip right over that too, and the results are darn good!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Onion Jam

Yes, you read right. Onion. Jam. If you like carmelized onions, then this recipe is for you. Basically taking carmelization a little further and deeper, and you come upon this deliciousness. I cannot take credit for finding this fabulous treat myself- as always, the fabulous Ronna Welsh of Purple Kale Kitchenworks deserves all the credit.

Try it. Then put it on toast. Then blend it in soup. Then put it on sandwiches. Then mix it in brown rice. Try it on a pizza with goat cheese, zucchini slices, and arugula.

The recipe:
a bag of onions
balsamic vinegar
vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 stick of butter

Cut up the onions into thin strips. Add the butter to the pan over very low heat. Allow to melt and coat the pan. Super slowly cook the onions "sweat", being careful to never allow them to burn. Frequently make sure to stir them so they do not stick. When you see that they are starting to turn translucent and creamy, you know you are headed the right direction. Slow cook them like this for as long as you can take it- I usually put it on while making other things and try to go at least 40 minutes. Once they start to get a slight color to them, splash with balsamic vinegar and a little stock, and allow to simmer. Taste and flavor with salt. Use the sugar if you find they are not quite sweet enough or if they are not getting a nice brown color.

Trust me, this is the stuff gourmet dreams are made of!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011


You can mix and match your own ingredients, but I always like to start my toasts- my take on bruschetta- with a garlic butter and onion jam. However, there are many ways to make these little open-faced bites, I've made a few suggestions below, but I'm sure you'll come up with your own!!

Crispy french or italian bread, such as a baguette, cut into thin round slices
olive oil or butter of choice (See garlic butter, below)
gruyere cheese (strong and melts really fabulously) (can also use goat, cheddar, etc)
roasted squash
roast or fresh red pepper
carmelized onion (see next post!)
slices of apple
cappicola or other high-quality ham

Combo A: garlic butter, onion jam, tomato, arugula, and gruyere cheese
Combo B: garlic butter, onion jam, apple, arugula, cheddar
Combo C: garlic butter, onion jam, roasted squash, gruyere
Combo D: Garlic butter, cappicola, gruyere

Stack the ingredients on the toast, placing the cheese on top. Heat oven to broil, and cook about 3 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Garlic butter: cut 8 cloves of garlic into slivers. Boil for about 10 minutes, and remove from water with slotted spoon. Mash with fork into fine pieces. Combine with a stick of butter at room temperature, add a pinch of sea salt, and return to refrigerator. Smear on everything. Mix in mashed potatoes. Use it to finish off sides of cooked carrots or green beans. Enjoy.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bars of the Burg: 2011 Edition

One less hot and more lovely summer evening, not so long ago, Ry and I found ourselves on a bit of an impromptu bar crawl in our beloved Williamsburg. Since, we have checked out several other new places as well, and they all seem to follow one of two uber popular trends: beer hall or old-timey cocktail mixology. It's made for some good drinking!

Maison Premiere

This cocktail and raw bar is by far the most visually stunning of them all- with a backyard that looks like a total New Orleans French Quarter fantasy! We sat in the front bar, where many mixologists ran around, crafting drinks that often took 5 minutes or more to make. All were southern-inspired gems, such as a champagne julep, served in the silver cup with hand stacked sno-cone like ice cubes, and with fresh mint. Ryan had a Belfour's Hurricane, which looked a bit girly- it was a bit pink- but was by no means light in the punch. Made with Four Roses Bourbon, apple brandy, aperol, and strawberries, Ryan declared it delicious.


A little further south, Dram is another bar specializing in classy spirits, but this time with the added fun of ordering a "Bartender's Choice" from the menu for $11. I asked for a champagne-based drink, and received a super refreshing champagne, gin, cucumber, and mint concoction. Ryan tried a Mai Tai, and our friends ordered the drink pictured above, which in addition to tasting great, was really beautiful!

The Post Office

This bar has the greatest chairs, situated next to adorable picture windows that open on pleasant sunny days. The bar reminds me of a man's man's bachelor pad, with lots of dark wood and a few touches of antler here and there. The drink menu specializes in whisky and bourbon, yet surprises with a wine menu that is really wonderful (One of my favorite glasses of alberino!) The food menu- snacky- but with delicious things (so says Ryan)- such as a spicy pork taco that was devoured in seconds. I sampled a pickle platter that must have had 10 different vegetables on it and all were lovely to pair with the white wine. We've already been there twice, and will definitely be back again and again!

Berry Park

Just another beer house, but not: a fabulous roof affords amazing views of manhattan, a caesar salad comes with a surprisingly tasty house-made lemon caesar dressing, and best of all: the huckleberry lemonades! Served in mason jars and made with a 44 huckleberry vodka and a splash of citrus, they are not too sweet, and just strong enough. Delicious!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Picnic Potato Salad

1 bag baby red potatoes
handful of cilantro
1/4 cup diced red onion
dollop of dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine or rice wine vinegar
pepper to taste
green or yellow string beans (optional)
cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Boil the potatoes and allow to cool well before making the salad. Dice the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Combine the cherry tomatoes, green beans, cilantro, and onion. Pour on the vinegar, and then add in the mayonnaise to taste- I usually put in about 3 tablespoons, but it fluctuates. Finally, a bit of dijon. Allow to sit in the fridge for several hours, or overnight, and taste and adjust flavors as needed prior to serving!! It really changes the longer it sits- the acid will begin to break down the potato, and it is delicious!!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Brooklyn Smorgasburg @ Brooklyn Flea

Yesterday Ryan & I ventured over to the Brooklyn Flea for lunch. We'd heard a lot about this little party by the river, and it definitely was fun! There are many local and artisinal food stands, including a few we sampled- and some that we will be back for in the near future. Highlights:

I love donuts- and this little treat, from DOUGH, did not disappoint! Light and not too oily, and covered in delicious cinnamon sugar, I am embarrassed to admit to eating... well... most of it in about a minute or less. Next time I might branch out into some of the more exotic flavors- there was one that was hibiscus flavored, and chocolate.. and glazed... and... oooooh donuts!

In addition to the donut, we added a chilled carrot apple ginger soup and a toast with some fresh cheese and carmelized onions ($8), and Ryan went money with the Lobster Rolls from the Red Hook Lobster Pound. We were both super happy with our choices- the soup was mildly spicy from the ginger, but with tons of flavor, and Ryan was loving the fresh lobster. (If only they weren't $16 each?!?)

As you can see from the photo evidence, we enjoyed our lunch. Ryan was very excited by the many choices, the picnic-style eating nearby on the grass and benches, and the beautiful skyline views. Me too! Next time, we're thinking of trying wings from the meat hook stand (Ryan), and I could be tempted by the homemade seitan stand.....

Saturday, June 25, 2011

ABC Kitchen

ABC Kitchen: Jean Jorges latest and most highly acclaimed restaurant since... Spice Market? Mercer Kitchen? A while. We've had some good from this guy, and we've had some bad (Vong- yuck). But ABC just sounded like my kind of place- a market table menu, relying on seasonal produce and the Union Square Farmers Market for inspiration, and all that jazz. We had a few tapas-sized bites to begin: I tried a roast beet dish with a fresh yogurt sauce and herbs- and it was really, really good. The earthiness of the beets, mixed with the green herbs, and the creaminess of the yogurt made for a great combo.

We also tried an heirloom tomato toast, which, I have no idea how they got them, but featured tomatoes that tasted like REAL tomatoes. and SMELLED like real tomatoes!! It was sooo wonderful to get this preview of things to come!!

Ryan also tried a crab toast with lemon aioli, which he enjoyed, though I found a little bland.

For our entrees, I ordered a pasta dish with fresh sugar snap peas in a light creamy sauce of ramps, and Ryan had a piece of sea bass. We both were neither displeased nor impressed, as we found them to be slightly less flavor-forward than we typically enjoy. I love the idea that the flavors are kept pure and simple, but Ryan & I are also, as I've written before, big fans of savory flavor, and it just wasn't there. I was not disappointed, but I also wasn't wowed.

The winners for me were the market table bites- coming in around $8 each, they were flavorful and delicious. There is food service at the bar, which at 9:30 on a Saturday had seats readily available, and I could definitely see this being a pleasurable drink & snack meal stop right off of Union Square!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Banana Bread: Now with more... mayonnaise!

I originally posted this recipe two years ago- and it remains a favorite (and a stand-by for when I let bananas over-ripen). But since I first started whipping it up, I have made a few teensy changes- the most important being I now add in a spoonful of mayo to keep the bread soft and moist. It works like a charm. Heard this one from a southern boy I met @ Harvard, and though at first it sounded gross, it makes sense- fat, in any form, is a fabulous thing.

From the original post:

Ah, dessert breads. I love them all- pumpkin, banana, date, zucchini, nut, carrot.... There is just something really great about a warm slice of bread with butter on it (and I like to pretend that it is somehow less of a treat because of the word 'bread' in the title)..... Also, it is THE best way I've found to use up my bad bananas. So, banana bread galore:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
grease loaf pan

1. In a small bowl, whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1 tsp of salt.
2. In a larger bowl, mix together 3/4 stick of butter (6 tblsp), an egg, and 2/3 cup of sugar. Add a dollop of mayonnaise. Add in 2-3 ripe bananas. The older, mushier, and blacker, the better. (no, really!)
Add in nuts, splash of vanilla, and chocolate chips if desired.
3. Beat the flour into the banana batter. Pour into the loaf pan. Bake for approx 1 hour.


Friday, June 10, 2011

My Last Supper

Great chef's and not so great chef's alike play a game where they dream up their last meal- and Ryan and I enjoy ruminating on this topic at times as well. We even have the coffee table book pictured above- which I love- that asks 50 super chefs to describe their last meal, and then accompanies each description with fabulous photographs. Each Chef answers the following questions, and here is my take:

What would be your last meal on Earth?

A picnic. For sure. French Country Boule, really good Mustard, Cheeses- many kinds (blue... goat... sheep... cow...), the ripest, reddest, dead-of-summer, eat-it-like-a-peach tomatoes, an entire bunch of fresh basil, the creamy, salty, harder on the outside and softer on the inside mozzarella, roasted red peppers, olives and super green olive oil (the good 'lacrima' stuff!), really ripe fruit... strawberries and peaches, juice-runnin'-down-my-elbow good... maybe a few bites of dark chocolate....

What would be the setting for your last meal?
Somewhere beautiful. A nice vista over some city, or perhaps out in the wild with a crystal blue lake and mountains... or next to the ocean... It would definitely be summer.

What would you drink with your last meal?

Champagne, of course.

Would there be music?
Maybe. I really like it when buskers play good jazz or classical music, like in the subway.

Who would be your dining companion?
Ryan... my life companion.

Who would prepare the meal?
We would. We'd go shopping at an outdoor market and pick things up here and there as we see what we like. Maybe get some fresh flowers, too.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


I have now been to this spot three times- and have always really enjoyed myself. The drinks are awesome (My friends SWEAR by the white sangria, if that is your kinda thing), the mojitos kick butt, and the cava is lovely and poured tall.

But more importantly, the tapas-style food is awesome. I've tried several veg plates, including the patatas bravas, which are not soggy at all and served with a nice spicy crema sauce. My favorite dish is a quinoa beet salad with mint and a little cheese. The mint flavor is super refreshing, light, and makes for a great flavor to contrast with the brown crunchy grain and the beet. I also really like the flatbread with spinach, cheese, and golden onions. Again, the combo of texture and flavor is incredibly satisfying!!

Friends have tried dishes of fish and meat and enjoyed them all- but I think the creative veg-friendly cuisine is what really impresses me in this spot (and the drinks!!)

Like ALL tapas experiences, always pricier than you think at first. Sigh, what can I say to this other than... tapas, you entice my palate and steal from my wallet!!!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The 'Lini' Salad (Broccolini & Cannellini Salad)

This one is quick easy and delicious.

1 Can Cannellinni Beans- Rinsed
Cherry Tomatoes cut in half (Or sliced red pepper)
broccolini- steamed for a few minutes, then shocked
red onion- handful diced fine
balsamic & really yummy olive oil
salt & pepper

Roughly chop the broccolini and combine with the cannellini, tomatoes and onion. Season to taste, mix and serve. YUM.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Ah France! Our vacation was dedicated to fine food and wine- and there was definitely plenty of that! To start, we visited Hediard and Fauchon, two boutique retailers of delicious gourmet goods. My french came in handy as I ordered un pain au chocolat, et un pain de campagne.... and then asking for du vin blanc.. and some amazing fraises!! We did our picnic in two parts- one in the Luxembourg gardens and then later on the champs de mars by the Eiffel tower. Life did not suck.

For dinner, we tried Au Vieux Comptoir (not to be confused with the millions of other bars and restaurants by the same name- this is the 'old' one. It got to the point where we saw one 'comptoir' restuarant a day, all across france....even in the airport!) (It means 'counter'...)

We shared a plate of white asparagus in a delicious dijon butter thing, and then I had a creamy porcini mushroom risotto, one of the hardier meals I had on our trip. Ry had a steak which he enjoyed with some super creamy mashed potatoes!

And for best lunch, this lovely spot by our hotel- in a pretty little square in the marais- had an awesome salad provencale- complete with egg, tuna, green beans... so delicious!

And of course... the drinking! Our first stop was Champagne- and even the streets are painted with these handy graphics and an _____> to point the way. We tried 3 different brands: Mercier, the most popular in France, Moet Chandon, the most popular... everywhere else, and De Castellane, holder of no significant moniker, but in a 'charlie and the chocolate factory'-esque building. Who could resist?

Very classy tour featuring video with voice over by Scarlett Johanson.

'The people's champagne' with some crazy cool cellars.

Charlie wasn't home.

Then it was off to St. Emilion, Home of Bordeaux. First, a walk through the vineyards outside the city:

Then a little wine tasting... .

Followed by some wine buying..

WARNING: You too may 'storm the castle' after drinking this much wine (kidding...)

Coffee is always better in Europe...

We then spent a day in the Chateauneuf du Pape in Provence, tasting straight from the foudre (big-ass barrel) and checking out the very old vintages (1926!!)

The word is that 2010 is gonna be a good one.

Old (the wine, of course... I would never say that about Ryan!)

For lunch, we had perhaps one of our most outstanding meals at Chez Serge. Truffles, a piece of beautiful fish in a lemony butter sauce, and Ryan had more meat, and of course a really good baba rum cake with berries....

And later, in Avignon, this cute spot- though the food was just ok amongst our many meals, the location and interior had me charmed!!

A great trip, and a lesson learned- next time I will have to blog more as we go so I remember more of each meal!!!