Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Holidays

Whatever you are celebrating this month, may it be a joyful, fun-filled, heart-warming celebration. And may you receive many holiday goodies, both edible and non. I will soon brag about what I was fortunate enough to receive, but for today . . .

"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night."
--Tiny Tim.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Pain de biere, d'amandes et de gingembre

I suppose I'll just stop saying I'm not a baker, since I do keep on baking. However, aside from my Focaccia in May I've never made Bread before and, I have to admit, I'm still scared of Yeast. After all, it is bacteria and alive. Pretty Spooky.

Anyway, I had read that Beer Bread is one of the easiest breads to make, so I decided to give it a shot. I was feeling a little under the weather, which always makes me want to create something from scratch, something that will be completely different when I take it out of the oven from how it was when I put it in. Of course, baking is the best solution to all of these requirements.

Although most beer breads don't require yeast, the one I decided to make, Almond Ginger Beer Bread, which I found on, did. Nevertheless, the Bread turned out perfectly, with a soft crumb and very little crust. I don't know how much of a difference the beer used makes, but, since I only like dark ales, I decided to make the Bread with Guinness. I was really pleased with the result. There was a definite dark beer under flavor but even Mom, who doesn't like bread, loved it. I also added some Caraway Seeds to give it a slight hint of Rye Bread. Next time I would probably add a little more Ginger and Caraway Seeds to enhance their flavors. It was also faintly sweet and fantastic toasted with a little salted butter for breakfast.

Pain de biere, d'amandes et de gingembre

2 cups Almonds, chopped
2 tablespoons + 4 tablespoons Butter
1 1/2 cups Guinness
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 package Active Dry Yeast
4 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Ground Ginger
1 teaspoon Caraway Seeds
2 Eggs
1/2 tablespoon Kosher Salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract
1 tablespoon Water
Olive Oil, as needed

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Saute Almonds in 2 tablespoons Butter until crispy; set aside. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons Butter, taking care it doesn't burn. Pour into a bowl and reserve.

Stir together Guiness and Brown Sugar. Mix in Active Dry Yeast and let stand until fully dissolved, 10 minutes.

Beat in 2 cups Flour, Ginger, 1 Egg, Salt and Almond Extract. Add reserved Melted Butter and sprinkle on 3rd cup of Flour. Stir in Sauteed Almonds. Begin to knead dough in bowl, adding more Flour as needed, until the bowl is clean and the dough firm.

Place dough in food processor with dough hook, add a little flour if necessary, and knead about 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Rub oil in the large bowl and place dough inside. Turn dough around inside bowl to coat it well with oil. Cover with a clean dishtowel and let it sit until double in volume, about 1 hour. Punch dough down and let rest 10 minutes. Divide in half and, on a clean board, form 2 round loaves. Place on baking sheet, cover with towel and let rise again until double in volume, another hour.

Beat 2nd Egg with Water and brush loaves with mixture. This will give a shiny crust to your bread. Bake for about 30 minutes, until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Makes 2 loaves.

and and and and and

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Le nouveau arrive: Ozzy

As you have probably guessed, the reason that I have been rather delinquent in my blogging is that I have a new puppy who takes up a TON of time, leaving very little for interesting cooking , much less blogging. But we love Ozzy and are so happy to welcome him into our lives.

Ozzy is an eight-month-old Pekingese and we've had him for about a month. We adopted him and brought him home on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, which I think is an excellent omen for the coming year. We adopted him from C.A.R.E. an animal adoption agency who houses the animals out in Bayonne, NJ. Ozzy was bought from a pet store by an older man who soon realized he was too old to take care of a puppy and abandoned Ozzy at a shelter. Poor baby! When we first adopted him, he was shy but still very loving and trusting. Now he acts as if he owns our apartment, barking at any interlopers! He still loves cuddling, often curling up in my arms whenever I do work. He loves playing, his new favorite toy being a rope toy, though he also loves a ratty old tennis ball he found under our bed. He is very sweet and friendly and we are so blessed to have him.

If you are planning on getting a pet (which I can't recommend enough), may I suggest you adopt a rescue animal? Shelters are no place for animals to live, devoid of affection, and there are so many sweet animals just waiting for someone to fall in love with them and take them home. My last dog, Blueberry, was also a rescue dog and there is nothing like watching a puppy learn to trust and love you. You become a real savior for him/her and, as long as you return that love, you will be handsomely rewarded.

This is the fantastic website through which I found Ozzy:

Regular food blogging will resume shortly. As well as participation in WDB. Yay!

and and and and

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Soupe d'ete

One of my favorite things about blogging is discovering new blogs with recipes I never would have dreamed of. If you're very observant, you might have noticed that I've added a new blog to my blogroll, Farmgirl Fare, written by Susan, who lives on a farm in Missouri. Needless to say, many of her recipes are based around fresh produce that she grows herself on her farm. One recipe that really caught my eye was this beautiful Soup. She made it to use up all her extra summer produce. Since I, unfortunately, do not have that problem living in the city, I used the recipe as an excuse to check out what looked most atrractive at the Greenmarket. I also swirled a dollop of my Pesto into the soup to brighten it up.

I stayed as close to Susan's recipe as I could, but, needless to say, I did make a few small changes. So here is my version:

Soupe d'ete

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Yellow Onions, roughly chopped
4 Red Peppers, roughly chopped
2 Zucchini, roughly chopped
2 Yellow Crookneck Squash, roughly chopped
6 cups Chicken Stock
1/8 teaspoon Kosher Salt and Pepper, or to taste

Heat Olive Oil in a large pot. Add Onions, Peppers, Zucchini and Squash. Cook for about 10 minutes, mixing the vegetables around so they cook evenly and are covered with Oil. Add Chicken Stock and boil. Reduce heat and simmer, with lid cracked, until vegetables can be cut with a wooden spoon, about 15 minutes. Add Salt and Pepper. Using an immersion blender, puree soup. Serve plain or with Pesto swirled in.

and and and and and

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Pesto d'ete

Labor day has passed and, with it, the accepted, if not astrological, end of summer. So, to commemorate all that beautiful summer bounty we were blessed with the past three months, I decided to make a Pesto. Pesto is very popular in the blogosphere during the summer. It is probably one of the easiest pasta sauces and perfect for summer for several reasons. First of all, it relies on an herb (usually Basil) as its main ingredient. For the Pesto to be superb, the Basil must be as well. And, although Pesto is traditionally made in a mortar and pestle, I made mine in the food processor, which meant I didn't heat up the kitchen except to boil water for the Pasta. Of course, Pesto is also wonderful served cold.

Because this was my first time making Pesto (shocking, I know, especially since we're such big pasta eaters), I made a pretty basic one, using my book Garlic, Garlic, Garlic for inspiration. I only made a couple of changes, must notably using fresh Garlic instead of dried. Some people have found raw garlic too strong i pesto and I found the fresh garlic to be a perfect alternative. I also substituted Walnuts for the more common Pine Nuts.

Pesto d'ete

3 cups Basil Leaves
1 cup Italian Parsley
8 cloves Fresh Garlic
1 cup Parmesan Cheese, coarsely grated
4 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
Black Pepper, about 8 grinds
pinch dried Oregano
Fleur de Sel, about 4 pinches
1/2 cup Walnuts
2/3 cup good-quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Combine Basil, Parsley, Garlic, Cheese, Butter, Pepper, Oregano and Fleur de Sel in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and pasty (pulsing gives you more control). Add Walnuts, broken in half, and pulse/chop until all walnut pieces are of a consistent size. Dribble in Oil, keeping the food processor running the whole time. Scrape sides and blend again until the mixture looks/feels like pesto (thick and rather creamy).

Add to pasta, grilled chicken, grilled fish--whatever you want!

and and and and and and

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Canard roti au miel

Friday nights mean cooking. And not just any cooking; something fancy, filling and fun. Often, for me at least, this means a roast--something you put into the oven and don't remove until it's become something completely different. Kind of like magic, no?

Why do Friday nights require this magic, you might ask? Two reasons. First--the Boy has started his second year of law school, so he has classes during the week and Friday nights he has no homework but, instead, can lounge around lazily and then (hopefully!) help me with the dishes. Second--Friday night is when Shabbos begins and, even though I usually have to work on Saturdays, I like to at least rest Friday nights and celebrate the weekly holiday with some kind of special meal. Traditionally Shabbos dinner means meat but, just as often, we serve fish. As far as I'm concerned, as long as it feels special, and there's a good bottle of wine, you're set.

Last Friday, I was off from work and decided to roast a whole duck which, I knew, takes a long time. In France, I fell in love with Magret de canard au miel, duck breast with honey, and have not yet been able to re-create that. So, instead, I basted my roasting whole duck with a honey sauce and it came out deliciously. I used a rather strong honey to stand up to the rich, dark duck meat. Next time, I would use even more sauce.

Canard roti au miel

Leaves of 2 stalks Basil, roughly torn
1 teaspoon Ginger Root, roughly chopped
2 pinches Kosher Salt, or to taste
1/4 cup strong, dark Honey (I used a Miel des Garrigues, from France)
1/4 stick Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1/8 cup Orange Juice
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
1 pinch dry Mustard
1 whole Duck, giblets removed

Pre-heat oven to 400 F. In mortar and pestle, pound together Basil, Ginger and Salt until pasty. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together Honey, Butter, Orange Juice, Lemon Juice and Mustard until Butter is melted and ingredients well-combined. Boil for about 3 minutes. Clean out cavity of Duck and pat dry with paper towels. If desired, cut/tear off any excess fat from carcass, even pulling out some of the fat under the skin with your fingers. Prick outside of Duck all over with a sharp knife. This will help drain the fat as the Duck cooks. Rub Basil mixture evenly into cavity.

Place Duck in roasting pan, breast-side up, preferably with a rack so the juices and fat can drip down as the Duck cooks. Pour half of Honey mixture over Duck, reserving the rest. Cover with tinfoil and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F, turn Duck breast-side down, spoon on more Honey, re-cover and roast, basting every half-hour with the honey, for 2 hours. Uncover, turn Duck breast-side up, pour on remaining Honey and roast for 30 minutes. This allows the skin to brown and become crisp.

Allow to rest before carving.

and and and and

Friday, August 18, 2006

Berry Pudding Cake

During the summer, our Greenmarket gets what I can only describe as a "berry explosion." And, while I'm normally happy just to gobble them up right out of hand, sometimes I want something a little more planned, a little more exciting. And what more exciting than baking? When I made this, just before I put it into the oven, it was sticky and worrisome; I was convinced we'd just have ice cream for dessert, not that there's anything wrong with Ice Cream, but, well . . . it's not Cake. Luckily, my worries were in vain. The cake came out beautiful, with the inside still retaining the texture and creaminess of pudding, but the outside pleasantly crusty. I got the recipe from the Greenmarket; they always have a display of recipes using the season's produce. This particular recipe was from Gourmet Magazine's July, 2005 issue. Once I got home, of course, I tweaked the recipe; it called for Blueberries and I had purchased some Black Raspberries and Strawberries. If you're not familiar with Black Raspberries, please make a point to go out and try some. They're a little tarter and smaller than raspberries and absolutely divine. They may well be my favorite berry!

Berry Pudding Cake

1/3 + 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Water
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
1 teaspoon Potato Starch
1 1/2 cup Black Raspberries
1/2 cup Strawberries
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 3/4 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon Allspice
1 large Egg
1/2 cup Whole Milk
1 stick Unsalted Butter, melted
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a square baking pan (I think mine is around 8-inches).

In a small saucepan, combine 1/3 cup Brown Sugar, Water, Lemon Juice and Potato Starch. When mixed well, stir in Berries. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients--remaining sugar, Flour, Baking Powder, Salt and Allspice. In a large bowl, whisk together the wet: Egg, Milk, Butter and Vanilla Extract. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, whisking as you add, until just combined.

Scoop batter into baking pan, spreading evenly. Don't worry if batter is sticky; just spread it out as best you can. Pour berry mixture on top, again, distributin them as evenly as possible. ake for 25 minutes. Cool slightly before eating or eat cold.

and and and and and

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Not too long ago, Slashfood had a series on sushi. I'm a big fan of sushi and sashimi, but I always just get a combination plate rather than pick out specific roles. But when we returned to our favorite sushi place, Natori, I knew it was time to try something new.

We began with an order of Broiled Alligator in Ginger Sauce. Natori is actually known as being one of the few restaurants in New York to serve Alligator, the one animal I'm terrified of. Not only does it taste delicious, especially in the Ginger Sauce, but it's also extremely satisfying to know that this is one reptile that won't eat me. Aren't I terrible?

I ordered two sushi rolls and one kind of sashimi. What I love about Natori, rather than other sushi restaurants, is that when you order sashimi, rather than one small piece of fish, you are presented with a small pile of three or four. The sashimi I ordered was Hirame, a light white fish that is usually flounder but, at Natori, was fluke. It was beautifully seasoned and very mild--best to eat it all first! I then moved on to a special, Fatty Tuna and Scallion Roll. Fatty Tuna, or Toro, is one of my favorite kinds of sushi and this roll was the best. The Tuna is rich and sweet and the scallions are spicy, providing a perfect counterpoint. My final roll was one I'd never had before--a Salmon Skin roll. A little too salty for my tastes, I did enjoy how crunchy it was. All in all, it was a well-rounded selection.

The Boy is much more accustomed to ordering sushi this way, so he had no trouble picking his dishes. One of his perennial favorites is a Spicy Tuna roll and this one did not disappoint, being extremely spicy, but still with that nice, rich tuna. Like me, he had a Fatty Tuna and Scallion roll. And, finally, an Unagi, or, Eel, roll. The best Eel roll he's ever had, it's served almost warm, with a heavy smoky flavor that still doesn't overpower the eel. It's delectably moist, but still crunchy on the outside. I, who had never had eel before, completely agreed.

58 Saint Marks Place
New York, NY 10003

and and and

Broccoli Raab

Back in March, the hunt was on for Broccoli Raab recipes and I happily complied by posting a recipe for Turkey soup with Broccoli Raab. As I believe I mentioned then, Broccoli Raab is a spicy, leafy green--very healthy and delicious. However, it can often be too tart for many people, so it's rather ignored. However, last Friday night, cooking side by side with Mom, preparing a Shabbat dinner meal, I developed a way to cook Broccoli Raab where it wound up almost sweet.

I wasn't planning on making Broccoli Raab at all Friday night. I was hoping for some nice Savoy Cabbage to braise, but the Broccoli Raab looked so beautiful at the Greenmarket, and Cabbage really isn't in season yet, so I just made a quick switch in my plans and everything came out wonderfully. We served it with a rich Salmon and the last Asparagus of the season.

Broccoli Raab

2 slices Turkey Bacon, chopped
2 bunches Broccoli Raab, chopped
2 tablespoons Butter
3/4 cup Chardonnay
leaves from 4 Oregano stems, chopped
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon Mustard Powder

Cook Turkey Bacon in a skillet until browned. Add Broccoli Raab, Butter and Chardonnay. Cover skillet and braise until Broccoli Raab is very soft and has adopted some of the wine's sweetness, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and season with Oregano, Salt, Pepper and Mustard Powder. Serve warm.

and and and and and

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


There are some times when you don't want a fancy meal. You want something easy that you can eat quickly, preferably using your hands rather than silverware. But that doesn't mean you don't want it to be tasty, with various flavor combinations that you perhaps never thought of combining before; flavors you'll want to repeat later in your own cooking. For these times, 'wichcraft is the place to go.

Owned by Tom Colicchio, 'wichcraft is the least expensive outpost to his ever-expanding food empire. And, after loving his astute criticisms in Top Chef, we were dying to try one of his restaurants. But, since money is tight right now and we're saving all we can while searching for an apartment, 'wichcraft was our only realy option for the time being. So, hungry for lunch yesterday afternoon, 'wichcraft it was!

A new outpost of 'wichcraft recently opened up on 8th street and Broadway, right in NYU territory, so we decided to head over there. The decor is industrial--painfully white, painfully clean--but, somehow, it works. The kitchen is out in front and that too is spotless. While deciding what to order, we watched the cooks put together other people's orders and, as it almost always does, that certainly helped influence our ordering choices.

When we finally did decide, I opted for a cool Sicilian Tuna sandwich. (The sandwiches are divided up into breakfast, cool, warm and ice cream.) Served on a baguette, there were hunks of dark pink tuna meat, thinly sliced fennel marinated in what tasted like olive oil with a splash of lemon and small specks of black olives. The sandwich was a great size--not so big I wasn't able to finish it, but still considerably more filling than bread.

The boy had decided on a warm Grilled Cheddar, but, watching a warm Meatloaf with Cheddar be prepared, he quickly changed his mind. The meatloaf was served on a ciabatta roll, with melted cheddar, bacon and tomato relish. The bacon was beautifully crunchy and the meatloaf and cheddar soft and creamy. To my surprise, the relish tasted sweet--almost like a homemade barbecue sauce. Again, there was a healthy amount of meat, but not so much it fell out all over the place.

The only part of our meal that was less than stellar was the Iced Coffee, having sat in a perculator all day. But that's certainly not enough reason not to return!

60 E. 8th Street (@ Broadway)
New York City

and and and and

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Mixology Monday: Mint Julep

As soon as I saw Kaiser Penguin's announcement of Mint as the theme for Mixology Monday, I knew what I wanted to make: a Mint Julep. A few years ago, while reading Gone with the Wind for what must have been the thousandth time, I noticed that Rhett Butler was drinking a Mint Julep. I mentioned this to the Boy, who admires Rhett greatly and he immediately announced that he wanted to try one. So, over Memorial Day weekend, I set about making one. Unfortunately, I had no Kentucky Straight Bourbon, so I used an old bottle of Jack Daniel's Sour Mash Whiskey instead.

I did enjoy the Mint Julep quite a lot, but Jack was a little too rough, it being so old. Also, Jack Daniel's has its own particular, wonderful taste, which didn't meld as well as it could have with the Mint. Now that I've bought a bottle of Bourbon, I will try this again.

Mint Julep

1/4 cup fresh Mint leaves
1 cup Sour Mash Whiskey
2 tablespoons Simple Syrup (equal parts Sugar and Water, cooked until sugar has fully dissolved and mixture become syrupy)

Put mint into pitcher and mash, using a muddler. Fill pitcher halfway with ice. (Ice balls are best, since they will not dilute the drink, but will keep it cold.)

Add Whiskey and Simple Syrup. Pour into glasses. Keep pitcher as cold as possible.

and and and and and

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Glace pomme-mangue

As I've said, it's been very hot here lately so we've been having quite a bit of ice cream. And after buying so much ice cream, I finally decided it was time to make my own.

For Chanukah this year (oops--forgot to blog about that; oh, well), the Boy gave me an Ice Cream Ball. Specifically designed for camping, this ball makes a pint of Ice Cream. You put the Cream ingredients in the small end and Ice and Rock Salt in the surrounding ball area. Then you roll it around for 20-40 minutes and *poof!* you have homemade Ice Cream! My Californian Ladies and I brought it down to Mexico with us where we broke it in by making Vanilla Ice Cream. I was so impressed I couldn't wait to try it out in NYC.

I decided to start with something a little fruity, but something where you could still taste the cream and milk. So I went to see what the supermarket had to offer by way of inspiration and found an organic Mango Apple Sauce made by Leroux Creek. So I decided to use this as the flavoring for my Ice Cream. What follows is my recipe for the Ice Cream base. Since I assume not many (any?) people have the Ice Cream Ball (although I highly recommend it!), just put the mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the instructions.

Glace pomme-mangue

1 cup Milk
1 1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
3 tablespoons Mango Apple Sauce (or more, if you want the taste to be stronger)

In a bowl, stir together Milk and Heavy Whipping Cream. Add sugar slowly, stirring well so it dissolves completely. Stir in Mango Apple Sauce, making sure it is perfectly incorporated. Let chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to strengthen flavors. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions. If you desire a harder ice cream, pack into a metal container (I used an old coffee can) and freeze until desired consistency.

Makes 1 pint.

and and and and and and and

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Focaccia d'ail, asperges. fraises & romarin

May certainly is Asparagus month! First there was Blog-Appetit, whose theme this month was Asperge-Fraise [Asparagus-Strawberry] and now Kevin at Seriously Good is searching for Asparagus recipes for his Asparagus Aspirations. The idea is that after this month we'll have a collection of Asparagus recipes for next Asparagus season, when Asparagus takes over the gardens of those lucky enough to have them.

For us city-dwellers, Asparagus is in season as well. Almost every trip to the Greenmarket results in my bringing home yet another bunch (0r two) of Asparagus. Usually I just roast them with Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper and maybe a little Garlic to preserve their fresh flavor. But yesterday I decided I wanted to do something more interesting.

I have never successfully cooked with Yeast, so I decided now was as good a time as any to try again. In Garlic, Garlic, Garlic, a cookbook the Boy gave me as a Chanukah present this year, there was a recipe for Focaccia that looked simple enough. I used their recipe for the Dough, which worked perfectly, making only one change, which was to add some Cardamon. Next time I would grind the Cardamon Seeds as that is the only way to release their flavor. I made my own topping, taking my cue from Blog-Appetit. Although time-consuming, this is not difficult. Dad loved it and the Boy and I are already discussing the possibility of other toppings.

Focaccia d'ail, asperges, fraises & romarin

1 tablespoon Active Dry Yeast
1 cup Warm Water
3 cups All-Purpose Flour
Salt and Black Pepper to taste (I used a little over 1 teaspoon of each)
Seeds from 4 pods Cardamon, ground
Leaves from 3 sprigs Rosemary, snipped
3 tablespoons Olive Oil

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup Warm Water and let stand until foamy. In food processor with dough blade, combine Flour, Salt, Pepper, Cardomon and Rosemary. Add Yeast, remaining 3/4 cup Water and Olive Oil. Mix until dough forms a ball. Add more Flour if dough is very sticky. Coat a large bowl (big enough for the dough to double in size) with Olive Oil. When dough has formed a ball, move it from food processor to bowl. Roll dough around bowl to coat in lightly in Oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place to double in size. This should take 1 hour.

While it rises, make the Topping:

1/4 + 2 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 1/2 cups Asparagus, chopped
1 1/2 cups Strawberries, chopped
10 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
Leaves from 4 sprigs Rosemary, minced
Salt, to taste

Heat 1/4 Olive Oil in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add Asparagus, Strawberries, Garlic, Rosemary and Salt. Stir to combine ingredients, then lower flame and cook, covered, 15 minutes. Remove saucepan from flame and reserve.

Lightly coat pizza stone with 1 tablespoon Olive Oil. After dough has doubled, place on lightly-floured surface and roll into circle the same size as stone. Place on stone and stretch dough to fully cover stone. With the tips of your fingers, press "dimples" (small indentations) all over the dough. Cover with a clean towel and let rest 20 minutes. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon Olive Oil, distributed as evenly as possible. Spoon Asparagus-Strawberry mixture evenly onto dough using a slotted spoon so no excess liquid seeps in. Cover with towel and allow to rise for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 F. Place pizza stone on a large baking sheet. Put about 10 ice cubes on sheet around border of stone. Place in oven. Reduce heat to 425 F. Bake for 25 minutes until golden around edges. Place towel or old rug at floor of oven to catch melting ice cubes.

Allow focaccia to cool on cake rack. Cut like pizza and serve warm.

and and and and and and and

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Mangue, mochi et sauce de caramel

There are few things I enjoy more than exploring a new food store. And when that store is Trader Joe's, one of the things I've really missed since leaving California, well, I'm in heaven.

For those of you who don't know, Trader Joe's just opened its first store in New York City, with a wine store next door. Miraculously, the prices have not risen and now we get all kinds of delightful Trader Joe's products, such as Mango Mochi.

I saw these little balls of goodness in the ice cream taste a warm day last week and just knew I had to try them. I also bought a couple of Mangoes to make a nice, easy dessert out of them. Once home, I decided to serve them with a Caramel Sauce, having found what looked like a simple recipe in A Taste of San Francisco, a book I've used before.

Perhaps if I had ever made Caramel Sauce before, it would have come out fine, but the Sugar hardened too quickly and my first attempt produced a burn mark on my saucepan that took two days, Baking Powder and Vinegar to get out. If anyone has advice on my Caramel mishap, I'd greatly appreciate it. I think the problem was that the Sugar was hot and the Cream I poured in, cold. But when I let the Sugar cool, it coated the pan in a hard, burnt sugar crust.

The Mango Mochi were a big hit, though. And, although there were chunks of hardened caramel in it, the sauce wasn't so bad either.

and and and and and and

Sunday, May 28, 2006


In the US, Memorial Day Weekend typically signifies the start of summer--the beaches open and, supposedly, the temperature spikes up. Of course, this doesn't often happen, but this year it was like clockwork. Saturday, the first day of the weekend, it was all of a sudden 80 F in New York, and it's probably going to stay that way until August.

So what to do when it's this hot out? Have Ice Cream, of course! Wandering around the West Village, looking at apartments, the Boy and I walked by Cones, an Argentinian-owned Gelateria I remember Dad taking me to from the time I was very young.

Cones was, of course, packed, but we were happy to wait while perusing all the flavors and it wasn't long before our orders were taken. I first tasted the Corn Ice Cream (how could I not?), which really tasted like frozen creamed corn--a little too strange for me. I then decided on the Ginger Sorbet, in honor of Sugar High Fridays, hosted this month by Once Upon a Feast and whose theme this month is Ginger. When I ordered my Sorbet, the man behind the counter insisted I taste it first--"It's very strong," he said. I followed his instructions, as did the man standing behind me in line. The result? Fantastic. The best Ginger Sorbet I've ever had. The secret? It's made with fresh Ginger, not candied.

I was so blown away, I couldn't even begin to imagine what to make for SHF. And the Boy's Dulce de Leche and Dark Chocolate ice creams paled in comparison to my sorbet.

272 Bleecker Street
New York City, 10014
212 414.1795

Update: Check out Ruth's beautiful Gingery round-up here!

and and and and and and

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Salade Waldorf, My Way

When trawling through blogs and collecting recipes one Sunday afternoon, I noticed that Elise had blogged a recipe for Waldorf Salad, a salad of Celery and Apples (among other things) all dressed with rather a lot of Mayonnaise. Now, I do like Mayonnaise on Sandwiches and in Tuna Salad, as long as it's used sparingly. But, very often, I find that a lot of people go a little overboard with it. So I've never really enjoyed Waldorf Salads, finding that they just have too much Mayonnaise. But, seeing Elise's recipe, I was intrigued to try making my own and making it to my particular Mayonnaise tastes.

Fast-forward a few weeks to when I finally had time to cook again, even to make something as simple as a Waldorf Salad. But now I'm in New York with the Boy, who absolutely refuses to eat Mayonnaise. Elise mentioned that some people substitute Mayonnaise with plain Yogurt, but that that made things too tart. So I looked at some substitutes for mayonnaise and started thinking about what would really work with the other ingredients of a Waldorf Salad. One thing I always think is missing is a spicy flavor; something that would give the Salad a nice kick. So I made a mixture of Mustard and Aioli. Not wanting to go too overboard with the spiciness, I chose a Myrtille-Violette [Blueberry-Violet] Mustard by Maille to enhance the fruitiness of the ingredients. This made a perfect salad as a side dish to Chicken.

Salade Waldorf

2 Apples (I recommend Gala or Pink Lady), cored and chopped
3 ribs Celery, chopped
1/2 cup Pecans, coarsely chopped (I just ripped them in half)
Fleur de Sel, to taste
1/8 cup Myrtille-Violette Mustard (or your favorite fruit mustard)
1/8 cup Aioli
Spring Salad Mix

Toss together Apples, Celery and Pecans in a bowl. Add Fleur de Sel to taste. Add Mustard and Aioli and mix all-together. Let sit until ready to serve. This gives the flavors a chance to combine. Before serving, toss with Spring Salad Mix.

Serves 4 as an appetizer or side dish.

and and and and and

Blogging Events: Blog Appetit Asperge-Fraise

Every time I turn around, it seems there's one more blogging event to participate in. And, unfortunately, it's so easy to lose track of them! As most of you know, Is My Blog Burning does a great job of telling us a lot of what's going on and one of my favorite ways to find new recipes is to look at the round-ups of blog events that I've either participated in or been unable to. It's also a great way of discovering new blogs!

Today was Blog-Appetit #8, whose theme was Asperge-Fraise. Blog-Appetit is the blogging event of the Francophone Blog world, where two ingredients are presented and participants have to make a dish combining them. The dishes are then commented on by a professional French chef. Sound like fun? It certainly is. In the three Blog-Appetits I've participated in, I made Stuffed Mushrooms, Grilled Mussels and a Roasted Duckling. Quite good, if I do say so myself.

So what did I make this time around, you ask? Well, I thought about making an Asparagus-Strawberry Focaccia, but didn't quite get around to figuring out how to make it work and not be too odd a combination. So, instead, I browsed through some favorite blogs tonight to see what others had come up with. Take a look at the complete list of participants. Something tells me we'll be eating a lot of Asparagus and Strawberry this week. Good thing they're both in season!

Also beginning today: Mixology Monday, hosted by Kaiser Penguin. The theme is Mint. Mint Julep, here I come!


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Soupe de betterave

Very often, when searching for something to cook, I browse the food blogs for interesting recipes. A little over a month ago, Clotilde posted a recipe for a Soupe de Betterave, Pate d'Anchois aux Noix and, to say the least, I was intrigued. At that time, I had some Walnuts languishing on a shelf and I was excited to put them to good use.

Unfortunately, I never did use those walnuts and ended up going down to Mexico and moving back to New York before I had a chance to cook again. But, once set up in a kitchen again, I was ready to try my own version at a Beet Boup.

When I hear "Beet Soup," I automatically think of a rich Borscht, with a scoop of Sour Cream served in it, then swirled around before eating. I really did consider adding Anchovies and/or Walnuts to the cream, but got lazy at the last minute. This Soup was really incredibly easy. Since I've been suffering from a slight head cold, I decided to make the Soup extra oniony to give it a kick. After the Beets were soft, I pureed about half of them so the Soup would be smooth and "taste more like itself," as Mom says, but still have the chunks of Beets and Onions that I really enjoy.

Soupe de betterave

3 Beets and their Greens
3 Yellow Onions
1-2 tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon Brown Sugar
1 Bay Leaf
3 tablespoons Cider Vinegar (I used one with Honey in it)
4 cups Chicken Stock (you could also use Vegetable)
6 cups Water
Salt, Pepper
6 stalks Parsley
3 stalks Dill Leaf
1/2 container Creme Fraiche
1 small container Yogurt

Peel Beets and cut them into thin slices (the smaller the slices, the faster the Beets cook). Wash the Greens and chop them.

Peel two of the Onions and slice them finely.

Mince the third Onion.

In a dutch oven, melt the Butter, then add the minced Onion. Cook for about 5 minutes, moving the Onion pieces around with a wooden spoon, until the Onion takes on a caramel color. Add the Beets, the other 2 Onions and the Greens.

Add the Sugar, Bay Leaf and Vinegar.

Simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring all the while.

Add the Stock and Water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so there are just tiny bubbles. Salt and Pepper to taste and cook until beets are tender, around 1/2 hour depending on how finely sliced the beets are. When beets are tender, remove about 1/2 of the solids and puree them in a food processor. Stir the puree back into the Soup.

Combine Creme Fraiche and Yogurt in a bowl. Serve soup with a heaping tablespoon of Creme Fraiche-Yogurt. Sprinkle with Parsley and Dill, cut up.

and and and and and

Friday, May 19, 2006


I have left California permanently and moved back to NYC. The Boy is working on the law school writing competition and I'm searching for jobs, so we haven't had much time to eat well. Nevertheless, we did find a charming cafe down in the West Village where the entire staff is French and speaks that food-friendly language to one another. And, of course, any place that reminds us of Paris is a place to which we're happy to return again, . . . and again.

We spent most of Wednesday in the house and, late in the afternoon, realized we were starving and that I was really craving a good cup of coffee. So we wandered South and West and stumbled upon A.O.C., which we had read about several times in Time Out but had never actually tried. (Apparently, A.O.C. is named after a French foodie-film, L'Aile ou la cuisse, which I am now on a mission to see.) Two women had just sat down for a drink at one of the small sidewalk tables, so we knew they were still serving.

Inside, the restaurant was empty, so we chose a small table next to a big window looking out on the street. The walls are covered with old French advertisements, which were fun to read as we were brought our menus. The names of the dishes were in French, with the descriptions in English--a perfect compromise.

The first thing to arrive after we ordered was my Cafe au Lait--a big cup of coffee with the foam glistening on top; kind of like a combination between a Caffe Latte and a Cappuccino. The coffee itself was strong and only slightly bitter.

Next we received our meals. I ordered the Salade de chevre, which advertised itself as "Phyllo pastry filled with goat cheese and spinach over a spinach salad." Normally, a salade de chevre comes with two or three small crottins of chevre on a big bed of greens. Not so at A.O.C. There was as much Chevre as there was Spinach, if not more. The cheese was stronger than Chevre normally is in the States--a welcome change. The Spinach salad was very lightly dressed with a mustardy vinaigrette and the Spinach sitting underneath the Chevre was cooked by the heat of contact. The Phyllo outside was also wonderful--a perfectly crispy texture contrast to the smooth, creamy Chevre inside.

The Boy opted for the Steak a cheval, Ground sirloin topped with a sunny side up egg and served with parsley mashed potatoes. Ordered medium, the Burger came as the French rose--brown outside, pinkish-red and warm inside. The Egg on top mixed wonderfully with the meat. Unfortunately, the Parsley Mashed Potatoes suffered in comparison to everything else. Although quite buttery, they were a little dry and had nowhere near the grand assortment of flavors everyhting else shared.

All in all, we've found a new neighborhood restaurant.

314 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10014

and and and and and and

Monday, May 08, 2006

San Felipe

Before we all go our separate ways, the girls and I are going down to San Felipe, in Baja, Mexico, for four days. We're renting a little cabana on the beach with a kitchen and the plan is to sun (except for me, who just burns), read, swim, sleep, relax, eat and drink. I have a list of Restaurants in San Felipe as well as a few recipes I think would go well with our warm climate. And, of course, I'm bringing down my camera (now that it's finally back in my posession) and will be taking lots of pictures of what we eat, see, etc.

So be well, and I'll see you in a week!

and and and and

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

My Bat-Mitzvah

One of the main reasons I have not been good about updating my blog the past few months is that, though by no means 12-years-old, I decided to have a bat-mitzvah. A bat-mitzvah is the Jewish coming-of-age ceremony and a Jewish woman officially comes of age at 12. However, when I was 12, for various reasons, there was no celebration or ceremony. But this year I finally wanted to have one, which meant I read from the Torah for the first time, also reciting an Aliyah, a blessing, over it. I also chanted the Haftorah, a reading from the Prophets that the Sages decided years ago goes well with the particular Torah reading of the week.

Needless to say, there was quite a lot of eating going on as well. My Orthodox, Kosher family came in from New York, so we tried out many different Kosher restaurants in the area. A brief synopsis:

Friday afternoon, we went to the Milky Way, a Kosher Dairy restaurant owned by Leah Adler, Steven Spielberg's mother. Leah explained to us that she has two duties: welcoming guests and telling them her specials and she does both beautifully. The restaurant is known for its Potato Pancakes, Cheese Blintzes and Cheesecake, all of which we tried and all of which were wonderful. Also notable was a Pistachio Pasta that I had, which was Rotelli Pasta with a Sauce made of broken-up bits of Pistachio, Soy Sauce and Garlic.

Saturday, we bought catered food for an Oneg Kiddush, the big, festive meal you eat after Saturday morning services. We bought food from Nessim's--Lox, Barbecued Cod and other Smoked Fish, Baba Ghanoush, Egg Salad, Tuna Salad and various accompaniments such as Tomatoes. Everything was great and beautiful. We bought our baked goods from Delice Bakery, a Kosher French Bakery with wonderful Tarts, Cakes, Challahs, Rolls and Cookies. They were also absolutely charming.

Sunday afternoon, we reunited with our family living in California and had a big party in Beverly Hills at BBC Cafe, a French-Moroccan restaurant. They gave us a private room and, while the food was good, the company was even better. We had salads (which included fresh Pears and Strawberries), fried Meat Balls and Tuna Rolls, Marinated-Grilled Vegetables and a platter of Meats, many spicy, some salty, but all good.

All in all, it was a very delicious weekend.

The Milky Way
9108 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035

8939 W. Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035

Delice Bakery
8583 W. PIco Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035

BBC Cafe
8620 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

and and and and and and and and and

Monday, March 27, 2006

Rib-Eye steaks au livarot

Wednesday is my first "blogiversary," so I've been reading a lot of old entries lately. I finally found my way back to the very first entry, Filet de boeuf au livarot. Since I made this when I was alone in Paris and the Boy had gone off to China, no one every tasted how good it was. So last Friday night, I made it again. I had to adjust a few things as is my way and I liked it even better this time than the last. My steaks, Rib-Eyes instead of Filets de boeuf, were fat and could really stand up to such a strong sauce. I also used a very big, very fat Onion, which cut through the rich Cheese Sauce. And, of course, a healthy dose of Piment d'Espelette. On the side, we had the season's first asparagus which were perfectly tender but still crunchy. And a light Onion-Orange Salad that Mom made. To drink we had a great bottle of Bordeaux. The meat and sauce really called for a full-bodied Wine. Surprisingly, none of this is difficult to make, so, even though it looks fancy, it's pretty simple. Whenever pan-grilling meat, it always needs to rest afterwards so the juices can redistribute. That resting time is just how much time you need to make the Livarot sauce. For those who don't know, Livarot is a washed-rind cow's milk cheese from Normandy. If it's not available, you can substitute any washed-rind or full-flavored "stinky" cheese such as Maroilles, Limburger or Harz.

Rib-Eye steaks au livarot

3 Rib-Eye Steaks
6 cloves Garlic
3 teaspoons Allspice
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Canola Oil
2 cloves Garlic, chopped (for sauce)
1 Yellow Onion, chopped
1/4 cup Unsweetened Apple Juice
1/4 cup Water
20 cl Milk
1/4 wheel Livarot, cut into small pieces
Salt and Piment d'Espelette, to taste
3 sprigs Parsley

Mash 6 cloves Garlic with Allspice, Salt and Pepper. Rub mixture over Steaks and let sit for 5-20 minutes. Heat up a skillet over high heat. A cast-iron skillet works really well here. Grease with Canola Oil. Cook Steaks one at a time, 2 minutes per side for rare; 4 minutes for medium-rare. Place Steaks on a plate in the oven to keep warm. Make sure oven is off or else Steaks will continue cooking.

Turn heat down to low and cook Garlic and Onion until Onion is beginning to brown. Turn heat back up to high and de-glaze pan with Apple Juice and Water, scraping up any little burnt peices of Meat, Garlic or Onion. Turn heat back down to low and add Milk and Cheese. Spread cheese around pan until fully liquefied and evenly distributed. aAdd Salt and Piment d'Espelette, to taste.

To serve: Spoon Sauce over Steaks and add 1 sprig of Parsley to each Steak.

Serves 3, though the Sauce could be stretched to serve more.

Update: I made a new variation!

and and and and and

Friday, March 24, 2006

Frittata d'epinards, oeufs et trois fromages

Alanna, over at A Veggie Venture, has declared that Broccoli Raab is the new spinach. Although I was inclined to agree with her, I decided the time had come to test her theory. Spinach has long been my favorite vegetable and I wasn't quite prepared to make it give up its status. So, rather than making plain steamed spinach with garlic and olive oil as I normally do, I decided to make a more filling side dish one night to go with the simple gray sole Mom was preparing. I'm calling this a frittata, though it's somewhere between that and a crustless quiche. Either way, it was eggy, spinachy and very cheesy--definitely a good source for calcium! I used two whole bunches of spinach for four people and, probably because we're all big eaters, there were only two pieces left the next day, which Mom and I heated and devoured for lunch. Although this does have a long cooking time, it's a very easy preparation, which means you can do lots of other things while it's in the oven, such as prepare the rest of dinner or watch an episode of Top Chef (Bravo's new reality show about people becoming top chefs and, hence, my new addiction). The recipe calls for shredded cheese and I was very lazy and bought my cheese pre-shredded, with delicious results, so don't be afraid of taking that shortcut.

Frittata d'epinards, oeufs et trois fromages

6 tablespoons Butter
1 Yellow Onion, chopped
12 oz. Cheddar Cheese, shredded
12 oz. Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
8 oz. Cottage Cheese
6 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
6 Eggs, beaten
2 bunches Spinach, cleaned, torn into small pieces

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Melt Butter. Saute Onion in it until soft. In a very large bowl, combine Cheeses. Add Flour, mix well. Add Onion and Butter and mix all together. Pour in Eggs and make sure they are thoroughly combined with the rest. Add spinach and mix once more. Pour into a greased baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Mix everything up again in the pan to ensure it cooks evenly. Bake for another 30 minutes.

and and and and and

Friday, March 17, 2006

Dill Sauce

I made this a while ago for a light, easy dinner and just found the picture on my computer, so I decided to post it. Mom had made a big pot of chicken soup and didn't know what to do with the hunks of chicken she'd poached while making the soup, so I made this simple, creamy sauce. With the chicken already cooked and tender, it took maybe ten minutes to assemble everything. Because I wasn't cooking the sauce, I took the opportunity to use my Fleur de Sel aux Epices I bought in Guerande so many months ago. This was fantastic, but I'm sure the sauce would work just as well with any good Salt or Spice Blend you prefer. I highly recommend it, not just for chicken, but for raw vegetables or plain-cooked fish. Enjoy!

Dill Sauce

3 Shallots, minced
3 sprigs Dill, chopped
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 1/4 cups Sour Cream
Fleur de Sel aux Epices and Black Pepper, to taste.

Mix all ingredients together. Chill until serving.

and and and and and

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Turkey Soup with Broccoli Raab and Dumplings

After what was perhaps the most intense two-month period of work, I am finally on vacation in New York and had some free-time tonight to do some cooking. Unfortunately, my camera is MIA after I left it at my cousins' months ago and Mom and Dad's is out of batteries, so there are no photos documenting my return to cooking. No matter. The soup was delicious, but not a looker.

Being lazy and still not having much time, I made this soup with Broth from boxes (they are organic...) so I'm sure it would be even better with homemade Stock. The Dumplings were a pleasant change of texture in the soup, but could easily be left out. Also, because I used so much meat and vegetables, the soup ended up being more like a hearty stew.

I was pleased to notice that Alanna, over at A Veggie Venture, is hunting for Broccoli Raab recipes. Broccoli Raab is such a wonderful, spicy green--more people should start using it and loving it.

Turkey Soup with Broccoli Raab and Dumplings

2 cups Chicken Broth
1 1/2 cups Vegetable Stock
1 skinless, boneless Turkey Breast, as defatted as possible
Hot Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
1/2 teaspoon Spice Blend (I used Weber Gourmet Barbecue Rub)
2 cloves Garlic, minced
Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
1 small Carrot, chopped
10 stalks Broccoli Raab, including leaves and florets, chopped
2 Mushrooms, sliced
2 stalks Celery, diced

1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
4-5 tablespoons Water
1 large Egg

1 small Shallot, chopped
2 sprigs Parsley, chopped
2 sprigs Chives, chopped

In a large saucepan, bring Chicken Broth and Vegetable Stock to a boil. Dice Turkey Breast and add to Stocks. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until Turkey is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Add Pepper Flakes, Spice Blend, Garlic, Salt and Pepper. Cook 5-10 more minutes to combine flavors. Add vegetables and simmer for 15 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, prpare the Dumpling Dough. Mix together Flour, Water and Egg in a small bowl. Mix well until you have a soft dough. Pour Dough into a colander placed on top of saucepan. Push dough through holes in colander, scraping bottom with a knife or spoon if the dough is sticking too much. Don't worry about the shapes; they will vary in size, which makes them all the more fun. Add Shallot. Cook 5-10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle Parlsey and Chives on top. Serve.

and and and and and

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Tarte aux pommes

One of my favorite parts of stage managing is baking for my cast. This may not sound like a typical managerial duty, but, in fact, it's a wonderful one. I often try to make something that relates to the play in some way or other, though other times I just settle for brownies--my old stand-by.

Not too long ago, I was stage managing for a cast that was suffering from low morale. We agreed to have a line-through, without the director present, late on a Sunday night when everyone was done with their other commitments. For the occasion, I baked a Covered Apple Pie, deciding that real fruit was better for my cast than massive amounts of chocolate. Because it was a busy week, I didn't have time to make my own dough (another thing I should start doing in the New Year) so instead I used a frozen Trader Joe's crust which was truly tasty--the best prepared crust I've had yet. It was buttery and had a real flavor, not at all like the parchmnet paper in which it came wrapped. The only problem is that it does break easily, so it needs to be handled with care and a little extra butter.

Tarte aux pommes

2 9-inch Pie Crusts
6 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
2 tablespoons Butter

Pre-heat oven to 425 F. Place 1 Pie Crust in a 9-inch pie pan. In a large bowl, toss together Apples, Sugar, Flour, Vanilla and Cinnamon until well-combined. Transfer to pie pan. Stud with Butter.

Cover filling with second Pie Crust. Pinch pastry edges together to seal, using the edge of a fork. Btush visible crust with Milk, more if it seems brittle. Cut several holes on-top to allow steam to escape while baking. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 F and bake another 30 minutes. Serve warm or cool.

and and and and and