Friday, December 24, 2010

Seasons Greetings

Wishing my family and friends a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cranberry Apple Raisin Crisp

It's holiday season! This dessert looked so festive I had to snap a picture of it before I added the crumb topping. This is intensely tangy, so there's no fear of falling asleep after dinner.

Recipe from Food and Wine Herbs and Spices Cookbook: (serves 4)

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
5 1/2 Tbsp cold butter, cut into 1/4" pieces
1 12oz pkg cranberries (about 3 cups)
2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 tsp ground clove (I reduced this to a pinch)

1. Heat oven to 375. Combine oats, 1/2 cup flour, brown sugar. Add butter and rub into flour till small crumbs form.
2. In another bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Transfer to 8" square baking dish. Top with crumb mixture. Bake 45 min. Let cool at least 15 min before serving

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Strawberry Meringue Stars

I've never made meringues before, so I'm pretty excited about these results. They're probably the prettiest looking edible items I've ever made. They definitely should be thought of more as candy than cookie, because they are blindingly sweet and are closer to marshmallow in consistency.

Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens magazine:

3 egg whites
1 tsp white vinegar
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 of a 3oz package (3 Tbsp) strawberry flavor gelatin
6 oz bittersweet chocolate and/or white chocolate melted

1. Place egg whites in bowl, let stand for 30 min till room temperature. Line cookie sheet with parchment or foil, set aside
2. Preheat oven to 300. Add vinegar and salt to egg whites. Beat with electric mixer on high till soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add sugar and dry gelatin, beating till stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Spoon mixture into pastry bag, fitted with large star tip. Pipe about 1 inch wide and tall onto cookie sheet.
3. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
This is where I will add my 2 cents: Do ONE TRAY AT A TIME if possible. I burned my second tray which was below my first. Watch them closely, because you don't want them to brown! Turn off oven and let dry inside for another 15 minutes. I didn't listen to this part and some of them started collapsing, so keep them warm while they set.
4.Dip in melted chocolate, or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

*These get tough and chewy really quick, so eat within a day or two, and don't refrigerate!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Based on the Joy of Cooking Recipe:

3 lbs of assorted apples, (peeled, cored and sliced into chunks)
1/2 to 3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice (depends on the juiciness of your apples)
1 to 1.5 Tbsp of lemon juice
1 large cinnamon stick

Cover and simmer, stirring often over low heat till tender (roughly 20 min). Stir in the following:

1/4 cup maple syrup (or 1/2 cup sugar or 6 Tbsp honey)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Cook for another minute. Remove from heat. Discard cinnamon stick. Blend to desired thickness.

Monday, September 27, 2010

French Lentil Casserole

This is my very favourite recipe, found via google by Jeremy a few years back. Only yesterday did we successfully retrace his googling steps and locate it. I'm posting it for safe-keeping. It is extremely flavourful, hearty, and delicious, and it fills your apartment with the most delightful aroma...

Here's the original link (thanks to the original blogger, Cecily, whom I don't know personally).

Cecily's French Lentil Casserole
2 cups white wine
1 t thyme
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 T white sugar
1 t salt
1 tsp Herbes de Provence (see below)
1 cup water
1 cup red, green, or French lentils
1 bunch chopped swiss chard
8 small carrots, diced
1 leek, cut into small rounds
1 cup loosely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup butter
olive oil

For Croutons

5 slices country bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 T olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
2 t Herbes de Provence
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425.

Make casserole
Mix wine, thyme, bay leaves, sugar, salt, Herbes de Provence, and water in sauce pan. Add lentils for 40 minutes on medium high. Saute vegetables in olive oil. Mix all ingredients in casserole dish (can also do individual casserole dishes) and bake for 15 minutes at 375, covered with foil.

Make croutons
toss all crouton ingredients together until evenly coated with oil. Bake at 425 for 7-10 minutes.

After baking each - the casserole and the croutons separately - add croutons to top of lentil mixture. Add melted butter over croutons. Bake for 20 minutes at 425.

Serves 4-6. Serve with another vegetable side dish. (Greenbeans, potatoes...)

*If you don't have premixed Herbes de Provence, mix the following:
1 T thyme
1 T chervil (I didn't have this, so I skipped it)
1 T rosemary
1 T savoury
1 t lavender
1 t tarragon
1 t marjoram
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t mint
2 powdered or chopped bay leaves

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Raspberry Bars

Here's another really easy dessert that doesn't use a lot of ingredients and is extremely quick to make:

(taken from Land O Lakes Treasury of Country Recipes)

2 and 1/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
10 oz (3/4 cup) raspberry preserves (feel free to use any other flavor)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine everything except for the preserves in a bowl. Mix till well combined. Reserve 1 and 1/2 cups of the mixture and set it aside. Press the remaining mixture into a greased 8" square baking pan. Spread jam over pressed mixture, but stay away from the edges, or it tends to burn. Crumble the rest of the mixture over the preserves (this part takes the longest because the dough itself isn't very crumbly, so you'll have to pull it off into little pieces). Bake for 40-50 min until lightly browned. Cool and cut into bars.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


My friend's sister, Emily, is a pastry chef, so once a year, we make it point to visit whichever fancy restaurant she happens to be working at. For the past couple of years, she's been the executive pastry chef at Cookshop, located on 20th and 10th Ave.

The first time we visited, we were given samplers of some of their "snacks," which included deviled eggs (where I had my first taste of smoked paprika and was hooked) and fried hominy. The scallops were recommended to me as an entree and I wasn't disappointed. Dessert was of course our main focus. I think we sampled just about everything on the menu, plus more. The Cookshop Candy Bar is a complex, compact little dessert that everyone must try. I attended a workshop where Emily demonstrated how to make these, so I now appreciate all the work that goes into the process. She also makes amazing bread puddings and has had plenty of write-ups on her ice cream and sorbets.

I'm dedicating a paragraph just for the sorbets, because they're one of the main reasons I keep going back. I've never eaten anything that captured the natural flavor of something as well as these sorbets. The apple sorbet is my all-time favorite, because it tastes exactly like fresh frozen apple. Unfortunately, it wasn't on the menu when my husband and I went last night, so I tried a scoop of concord grape, grapefruit-campari and hazelnut. Having grown up with a concord vine in the backyard, I'm perfectly familiar with the way they taste, but this sorbet tasted (and looked) like it was made from slightly younger light-purple grapes and was delicious. The grapefruit campari was fresh and zingy and the hazelnut was so intense in flavor it almost felt like eating a cookie or pie crust. If you want to experiment with less typical flavors, try the the basil sorbet. It wasn't quite my cup of tea, but most of the ladies I was with really enjoyed it.

Their menu is based on seasonal ingredients, so it changes frequently. I've been back 4 times now, 3x for dinner and once for brunch. My husband has tried the sturgeon and eggplant parmesan and loved both. Last night we tried their fried green tomatoes, which had a sweet relish on top, but were too full to finish them. Their dishes can be a little heavy on the salt at times and the variation in quantities depending on the entree can be pretty drastic, but other than that, I have no gripes. Being as popular as it is, it's a pretty noisy, crowded restaurant, so if you're looking for a quiet romantic spot, it might not be the place to go.

Also, if you go during the day, be sure to walk on the Highline (raised subway track turned into garden) The entrance is right across the street.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Upside Down Pear Cake

There's nothing more "organic" than the gnarled, dimpled and slightly grotesque looking pears my parents brought back from their garden in VT. I pointed and laughed at them the first time I saw them. But they're sugar sweet and make great Upside-Down cake.

The pears were so unique looking my mom decided to paint them as well. Visit her website!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Newfane Cafe and Creamery

Hope everyone is enjoying their Labor Day off! If you're ever visiting Southern VT, look out for the Newfane Cafe and Creamery. It's an old-fashioned looking food store, with wooden counters, chalkboard signs, and a smoker out back. As far as I could tell from the few times I've been there, they cook everything they sell there from scratch, including the bread.

Most people seem to order and take out, but if you plan on eating in, there's a large rustic dining table just as you enter if you don't mind sharing with strangers, as well as a few dining tables in the side room. There's a also a pretty amazing table made of jar lids and a matching stool made of dollar coins.

The menu mostly consists of sandwiches, but they're not the boring bland sandwiches you'll find at most delis. The fresh sliced bread makes all the difference, as does the extra side salad they include. They also do toasted paninis, like the Alamo, which if I remember correctly, had fresh sliced turkey, avocado, pepper jack cheese and baby spinach. Their tuna melt includes capers and peppers and isn't overflowing with mayo. Crabcake Sammy tastes like it uses fresh crab meat, not canned. They also offer veggie burgers (Squirrel Burger) and falafel if you can't eat meat. The glass counter also shows off their quiche and a massive layered tortilla pie.

If you're looking for something sweet, try their giant oatmeal raisin cookies. They're huge, heavy and just the right amount of chewiness. It usually takes me a day to finish one, which is great if you plan on going hiking.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lentils & Chickpeas with Apples & Grapes

This is my variation on an original recipe sent to me by friend and animator Elliot Cowan. His was a cold salad with a balsamic dressing and required no cooking. Here's what I did with some of the same basic ingredients (plus some) and a little stove top magic... Mine, I think, is better served hot, but would also work as a cold salad for a picnic side dish. It's very flavourful, healthy, and hearty. I'm sure Elliot would be happy to share his version as well upon request.


2 T extra virgin olive oil (roughly)
2 large shallots
1 Fuji or Gala apple, chopped
1 knob of ginger, grated (about 3/4 - 1 teaspoon maybe)
2 T white wine (roughly)
coarsely ground black pepper
sea salt
1 15.5 oz. can of chickpeas
1 cup lentils, pre-rinsed and soaked
1 cup seedless red grapes, cut into halves


Sauté in olive oil the shallots, apple, ginger, pepper, salt until desirably soft and yummy-looking, roughly between 3-5 minutes. Add lentils and chickpeas and stir in white wine. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 5 more minutes. Plop all of that into a bowl with the grapes. Stir up, serve, add a little more sea salt to taste, and devour.


Ahead of time, I had frozen an additional bunch or two of seedless grapes and served them in a sorbet dish on the side. (As you can see in my picture.)

I think adding some chopped celery to the skillet would be a pretty great addition to this too.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Black Bean & Tomato Quinoa

This is from Epicurious. It's simple and delicious. If you leave out the butter, it's vegan and, just for you, Jene: dairy-free!

2 teaspoons grated lime zest
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (uncooked) quinoa
1 (14- to 15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium tomatoes, diced (I used a combo of yellow, grape, and Campari tomatoes)
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Whisk together lime zest and juice, butter, oil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.

If your quinoa does not say "pre-rinsed" on the package, wash quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a sieve each time. This will get rid of the bitter powder it has in its natural, unwashed form.

Cook quinoa in a medium pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt for 2 quarts water), uncovered, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in sieve and fluff with fork.

Add quinoa to dressing and toss until dressing is absorbed, then stir in remaining ingredients and sea salt and coarsely ground cracked pepper to taste.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Peppery Muenster Biscuit Goodness

My friend Jihan brought over some amazing biscuits from Little Buddy Biscuit Company in Brooklyn the other night and after greedily devouring them, I was determined to recreate the deliciousness. Here's what I came up with. They are scrumptious and don't need butter or anything as a topper.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
10 oz. Muenster Cheese, coarsely grated (1 1/2 cups)
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450°F.
(I put the Muenster in the freezer before making this recipe to make grating easier)

Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, salt, and ground pepper in a bowl, then blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in Muenster cheese. Add buttermilk and stir until just combined.

Spoon dough into mounds (size depending on how many you wish to make) about 2 inches apart onto a buttered large baking sheet. Bake in middle of oven until golden, 18 to 20 minutes.

These are best eaten right out of the oven. The next morning, they were delicious, but the texture was less like that of a biscuit and more like a crumpet.

Friday, July 16, 2010

100 GYoZA !!!

When I get sick of summery spring rolls and cold food and want a hot but kinda-light main-course. This does the trick…

100 GYOZA!!! (more than one serving)

1 bunch of scallion

1/2 bunch cilantro

1/2 pack of white or brown mushrooms

handfull of string-beans

¼ piece red cabbage

½ cup corn

1½ pound ground chicken

15-iish oz can of crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoon of miso paste

1 tablespoon soy sauce

5 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon size ginger

chop, chop! Mix in bowl.


100 gyoza skin (2 packs)---(buy it cheap at the Hong Kong Supermarket --- Hester Street, above Canal..)

Put a spoonful size of mixture onto gyoza skin, wet one size with water, fold,fold,fold.. Make it look pretty. No forks, just fingers and fold in one direction to make a nice curved edge.

When all done (each pan holds 50) , you can cook or store in freezer piled together in tuppeware. I take the frozen ones and sizzle them oil on high in a pan until skin looks fried (and so they don’t stick to pan and get all gloppy), then add water to steam and cover.

Commonly there's left over gyoza mixture, so you make gyoza burgers!

---or just eat it cooked with noodles or anything....

Monday, July 12, 2010


As with most homemade food, fresh pesto tastes so much better than anything you get out of a bottle. It's fast, easy and requires no cooking. Too bad my photo doesn't really do it justice...

(Recipe is from "The Complete Book of Sauces," by Sallie Williams)

Yields 1 1/2 cups

2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 pine nuts
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste (I don't add any salt, because the parmesan adds plenty of flavor)

If you care about keeping your pesto staying a bright green, follow this tip

Place all ingredients in food processor and blend till smooth, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides. Toss with cooked pasta and serve immediately or store refriderated in a tightly sealed jar.

Personal note: I prefer my pesto slightly chunky, vs runny. So I start with 1/4 cup of olive oil and then slowly add more till I've reached the consistency I like (a little less than what the recipe recommends). I also like a little more basil. The recipe is extremely flexible, so as long as you have extra ingredients on hand, it's easy to experiment.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Indian-Spiced Potato Salad

This is a nice, refreshing variation to my mom's potato salad, to which I am particularly loyal. (Next time I'll post that recipe). I feel like this would have been tastier with a smaller ratio of potatoes, but I swapped out the potatoes the recipe called for with the cheaper russet potatoes, so that may have been the reason it seemed a little on the drier side to me.

Here's the original recipe as it appears on

3 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 cup chopped shallots (about 3)
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped, peeled, fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups (packed) chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems, divided

Bring large pot of salted water to boil; add potatoes. Cook until potatoes are tender when pierced with knife, about 25 minutes (Although, this was too long for the russets I used). Dump water, cover, and refrigerate, at least 3 hours.

Puree shallots, mayonnaise, ginger, and lemon juice in processor. Transfer to small bowl. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of cilantro.

Peel potatoes and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Place in large bowl, add dressing, and toss to coat. Refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I felt it really needed the salt). Add remaining cilantro and serve.

Yields about 8 servings.

Garam Masala Deviled Eggs

These are from and were introduced to me by a friend. I wouldn't change a thing about the recipe. It's a SCRUMPTIOUS update to a picnic classic.

Here's what you need:

6 hard-boiled eggs
3 1/2 Tablespoons mayonnaise (regular - I think low-fat would be too sweet)
3 Tablespoons minced green onion
1 Tablespoon minced, seeded jalapeño
1 1/2 teaspoons minced mango chutney (it's a little too clumpy right out the jar)
1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder (this is easier to find than you think with the more ethnic spices at the grocery store)

finely chopped radishes for garnish

Shell eggs carefully, then cut in half lengthwise. Transfer yolks to small bowl and mash with fork. Mix in mayonnaise. Stir in onion, jalapeño, chutney, and garam masala.

Spoon yolk mixture into whites. Top generously with chopped radishes. (Can be made 4 hours ahead.) Cover loosely and refrigerate.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lemon-Cream Sandwich Cookies

Yesterday was my friend's baby shower so I made these cookies to celebrate! Both the filling and cookie are lemon flavored:

Recipe from Bon Appetit magazine (Jan 2009)

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp lemon zest
3 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt ( I used 1/4)
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks

1 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest
dash salt
1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar

Boil lemon juice and zest in saucepan till reduced to 2 Tbsp. Let cool. Beat butter till fluffly, add sugar and mix well. Beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Add lemon juice. In another bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Then add the dry to the wet mixture and blend. Cover and chill dough till firm, at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 375. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out 1/3 dough to 3/8 thickness. Using 2 inch round cutter, cut out cookies. Bake 10-12 min. (I used a 1 inch round and made them thinner and ended up with almost 100, so you may need to adjust depending how many you want, and the size of your cutter). Repeat with remaining dough.

Mash zest and salt into a paste. Add butter. Beat with electric mixer till fluffly. Add sugar in 4 batches, beating after each till blended.
(Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temp before using).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Edible Garden

This year, with the pigeon netting in place, we can actually sit outside and enjoy the balcony. I can also grow a lot more edible plants without being worried they'll be contaminated.

I bought 2 big tubs of basil, 2 tomato plants (one yellow cherry tomato and another medium sized red tomato) and a lettuce mix.

I learned from previous years that buying only one basil plant prevented me from plucking enough leaves, to make pesto. So I went a little overboard..... My calamondin/calamansi plant is still going strong making tiny sour oranges that I use to season seafood with.

And lastly, I learned that wrought iron furniture isn't comfortable for more than a half hour at a time, so I invested in some nice thick cushions. Time to spend some quality reading time with my plants.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Whole Wheat Biscuits

We went up to Vermont a few weeks ago and brought back a brick of Grafton Village Sage cheese. With no crackers, or baguettes on hand, I made the quickest bread-like food I could think of: BISCUITS!! My whole wheat flour doesn't get much use, so I found this recipe. Super tasty, super easy.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Blueberry Pie

Instead of a traditional lattice, I decided to have some fun with my tiny cookie cutters. The pie shell and top layer were 2 different pre-made doughs, so unfortunately I over-baked the shell a bit.

I also had a bizarre incident when making the filling, which I've made plenty of times in the past. Some recipes tell you to use a "non-reactive" bowl or pan. I must have used a "reactive" pan because when cooking the sugar and blueberries, the sugar started to crystalize into these really hard white chunks and they wouldn't dissolve. I ended up sieving them out and losing a few blueberries in the process.

This filling recipe is from my pastry course packet, by Nick Malgieri. What's great about this particular method is that you end up with 2 different textures in the fruit: A super soft, well-cooked portion, which is used to develop the syrup and a firmer batch, which is added right before baking.

2 pints blueberries (measure out 1 cup for cooking)
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp water
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp cinnamon (I prefer 1/4 tsp)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 egg beaten (for the wash on top)

Preheat oven to 375

Combine 1 cup of blueberries with the sugar in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stir till sugar is melted and the mixture is very liquid (5 min). In a separate bowl, mix the water and cornstarch and whisk into blueberry/sugar mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly till it boils, thickens and "becomes clear" (loses the murkiness). Pour into a large bowl and stir in the seasonings and lastly the blueberries.

Pour into pie shell. Cover with lattice or top crust, brush with egg wash. Optional: Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 40 min.

Monday, June 7, 2010

World's Largest Burger

The Australians have set a new record for the world's largest burger, weighing in at 95.5 kg (roughly 210 lbs).

The burger required 81kg of mince, 120 eggs, 16 tomatoes, 120 cheese slices, 2kg of lettuce, 21kg of bread and half a kilo of barbecue sauce.

(via The Daily Telegraph)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Coconut Macaroons

Sometimes the best recipes are found on the back of the ingredients:

1 pkg (7oz) sweetened coconut flakes
3 Tbsp flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp almond extract

Mix the dry ingredients together, then add the egg whites and almond extract until well blended. Drop by the tablespoon onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

Melt 4 squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate and dip cookies halfway. Let stand at room temperature or refrigerate on wax paper-lined tray for 30 min.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Curried Carrot Soup

I have a whole new appreciation for carrots now.

Recipe from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. You will need a LARGE pot for this

2 Tbsp butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp curry powder
2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper
3.5 cups low sodium broth
3 cups water
2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks (if you use baby carrots, it'll save you a lot of trouble)
2 Tbsp lemon juice

Heat butter in a 4-5 quart pot. Add onion, curry, salt and pepper. Cook till onion is soft. Add broth, carrots and 3 cups of water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer till carrots are tender (20 min). In a blender, puree soup till smooth. Add lemon juice.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Blackberry Ice Cream

I think the next time I make this, I'll alter the recipe slightly. I would try cutting the sugar down by half, because it's a little too sweet and overpowers the taste of the fruit. You might also want to double this recipe if you intend to feed more than 2-3 people (the recipe says it feeds 8, but unless everyone's getting a tiny single scoop I don't see how that's possible).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fast & Delicious Pasta with Artichokes, Olives, and Tomatoes

This is a Martha Stewart Whole Living recipe and the only change I made was to swap the whole wheat pasta (which is a crime against the tongue as far as I'm concerned) for the normal stuff. Yes, I could have photographed it when I made it, but why would I when she has a master team of food photographers?

While the ingredients are minimal, this has a ton of flavour and is nice and healthy. Importantly, also, it's really quick and easy.


* Coarse salt and ground pepper
* 12 ounces thin spaghetti
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1/2 medium onion , thinly sliced, lengthwise
* 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced crosswise
* 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used the $2.98 Goya kind from the grocery store.)
* 1 can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and quartered lengthwise
* 1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, quartered lengthwise
* 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes , halved lengthwise
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more serving
* 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn


1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Return pasta to pot.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, cook, stirring occasionally until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine and cook until evaporated, about 2 minutes.

3. Stir in artichokes and cook until starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add olives and half of the tomatoes; cook until tomatoes start to break down, 1 to 2 minutes. Add pasta to skillet. Stir in remaining tomatoes, oil, cheese, and basil. Thin with reserved pasta water if necessary to coat the spaghetti. Serve with additional cheese.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Strawberry Tart

The Institute of Culinary Education offers some great courses, like the 3 session class on pastry which I took a few years back. We learned the basics of flaky pastry dough, sweet dough and pastry cream and used them to make everything from open faced tarts, eclairs, cream puffs, to covered pies. The following recipe is taken from my course packet (written by Nick Malgieri):

Sweet Dough
1 cup flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) of cold unsalted butter
1 large egg

Combine dry ingredients. Cut butter into 1 Tbsp pieces and add to dry ingredients. Using your hands, rub the butter into the flour mix until it resembles a course ground meal and no large pieces of butter are visible. Beat the eggs in a small bowl and pour over flour/butter mixture. Stir until the dough begins to hold together, but appears dry. Scatter flour on to a work surface and scrape dough on it. Knead 3-4 times till smooth. Press into disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Roll out the dough and press into tart pan. Bake at 350 for 20 min.

Pastry Cream (Creme Patissierre)
1 cup whole milk
2 Tbsp cornstarch
6 Tbsp sugar
1 egg
2 yolks
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla

Dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 cup of the milk. Combine remaining milk and sugar in a saucepan and bring to boil. Remove from heat.
Beat the whole eggs into the cornstarch mixture. Then beat in the yolks. Pour 1/3 of the boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
Return the remaining milk to a boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, whisking constantly.
Continue whisking till cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in butter and vanilla.
Pour into a stainless steel bowl or pan and press plastic wrap directly on the surface (so a skin doesn't form). Chill immediately.

When the pastry cream is chilled, spread it evenly inside the cooled pastry shell. Top with whatever fruit you want. I added a glaze of raspberry jam mixed with a bit of water, which I heated briefly and brushed on top. Chill till ready to serve.


This afternoon, I took a trip to Little Tokyo (in downtown Los Angeles) and was walking around enjoying all the different shops and restaurants. I came across these lovely little mochi-latos! It's basically a take on the mochi ice cream bites that you can find in most Japanese markets - except instead of just ice cream, it's filled with gelato! I tried the Hazelnut Mochi-Lato and it was yummy! Thought I'd take a pic and share!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Japanese Bunny Cakes

Mitsuwa is a huge Japanese supermarket in Edgewater NJ, near where we live. I've only been there a few time because it's significantly more expensive than a regular or Chinese supermarket, but sometimes I like to splurge. The highlight of my visit is always their bakery counter. You can see what caught my eye today: A $20 box of bunny cakes. I couldn't justify buying them, so I snapped a photo with my camera phone instead. I was wary of taking photos inside a store, since lots of places yell at you for that, but apparently more people take photos of the cakes there than buy them.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

I've always been a fan of the British "Naked Chef," so I watched 4 episodes of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution this weekend on ABC's website. Apparently he had started a campaign in Britain, convincing schools to improve their quality of food. After succeeding, he decided to try to do the same in the US, starting with the town of Huntington, West Virgina (statistically the unhealthiest place in the US). Kids are served pizza for breakfast, or are eating cereal with chocolate or strawberry milk. Jamie showed a class a bunch of tomatoes and no one knew what they were. When asked what they ate at home, the kids said chicken nuggets and chicken fingers. Meanwhile the school health board considers french fries a perfectly acceptable vegetable option.

What keeps me watching the show is the frustration I feel at the people of the town. Almost everyone is resistant to the idea of eating healthy. The local radio host and newspaper bash Jamie, the lunch ladies begrudgingly try his suggestions and the health board keep finding reasons why his menu doesn't meet their standards. All his tactics seem to fail him. It isn't until he gets a group of high school students with stories of deaths in their families or obesity problems of their own that people start to listen. He tries to show people that cooking isn't that difficult and that it isn't necessary to eat processed foods.

If anyone's interested you can sign his petition asking for healthier food in schools.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Blueberry Buckle (coffee cake)

(Recipe from Land O Lakes Treasury of Country Recipes, an awesome book with simple recipes which I picked up at a book fair for $7)

2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (I reduced it from 1/2)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 375.
For the cake, combine all ingredients except blueberries untill well mixed. Fold blueberries into the batter. Spread into greased and floured 9" sq baking pan. (It will barely look like enough to cover the bottom).
For the topping, mix all the dry ingredients. Cut in butter till crumbly, sprinkle over batter.
Bake for 30-35 min.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Electric Griddle

When people think "griddle" they usually think pancakes. But I plan on using mine more like a fry pan, or hibachi grill. This particular model is pretty large, so I'm hoping to be able to use it for dinner parties where we can all sit around the table while food cooks in front of us. Burgers, sausages, stir-fry veggies, bacon, eggs and of course, pancakes.

I already like the fact that I can relax at the table and not be the only one keeping an eye on what's cooking. It'll be even nicer in summer, not being stuck in front of a hot stove.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Got 2 great gifts from the hubby for my birthday: an electric griddle and a portable lightbox setup, which comes built into a bag and includes 2 lights and a tripod! Notice what a complete amateur I am from the photo above, because I didn't realize you're supposed to fold over the top half to form....well, a box. Im still learning. Either way, bounce light will look 10x better than my florescent kitchen bulbs and yellow dining room lights, not to mention the hated flash.
Let's take a closer look at the sweets inside the lightbox....

Those are the uncoated chocolate chip cookie dough truffles I'm making for my friend's birthday tomorrow. I'll be waking up early to temper the chocolate and make a mess.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Shrimp Wonton

50 Wonton skins
20 large shrimp, (deveined, peeled and cut into small pieces)
1/3 bag of cole slaw mix (which is really just cabbage and carrot, pre-chopped, a trick I learned from my mother-in-law, which saves a lot of time)
3 scallions, chopped
1 Tbsp of sesame oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp Sriracha sauce
white pepper
1/3 cup of chopped fresh shitake mushrooms

Sautee the cole slaw mix, scallions and shitake till soft. Pulse a few times in food processor till the mixture is well chopped, but not mush.

Sautee the shrimp till just cooked. Pulse in food processor till it's finely chopped.

Mix the veggies and shrimp together and add all the seasonings.

Place a teaspoon of filling into the wonton wrapper. Use water to seal the edges by folding the wrapped in half, over the filling. You can then fold the corners inward, or leave it as a triangle. 49 more to go!

Boil or fry. Make sure your wonton are well sealed if you plan on boiling. You can also freeze them, but place wax paper between layers if stacking and try not to have them overlap too much or they'll stick to each other.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Toasted Marshalls

Available April 2nd @ $15 each thru Rotofugi (post via Toysrevil)

Designed by 64 Colors

Friday, March 26, 2010

Killer Brown Sugar Cookies

Anyone who adds the words "killer" in front of their recipe better live up to those expectations. This one definitely did. I was baking them to bring into work, but I think I ate almost a 1/4 of them before forcing myself to pack them away. It just might be my new favorite cookie.

Note on the recipe: I couldn't find rum extract, so I just used good ol' rum instead.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Be a taste tester for a Food Network show!

Why couldn't Food Network have these events while I was unemployed?!

Be a taste tester for the show "The Restaurant" in Brooklyn on April 2nd or 13th, both @ 11:30am. You can't have any food allergies. You'll get to try competing chef's dishes and comment on them. Everyone will be on camera for this show. Tickets are free, you just have to register for Onset Productions.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

White Bean Dip

1 can Navy Beans
1 scallion
1 clove garlic
1/2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 lemon juiced
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
Dash of paprika
Freshly ground pepper

Rinse the beans. Throw everything into a food processor and serve. It's a nice alternative to hummus.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Calamondin Tree

My calamondin tree arrived tonight!!! It's a lot bigger than I expected, and I need to buy a bigger pot. I opened the package and was overwhelmed with the most amazing smell, something like a mix of jasmine and oranges. As you can see there are already 5 or 6 fruit, not to mention a ton of buds.

What the heck is a calamondin? Most of you may know it as a lucky orange plant. The fruit resemble tiny oranges, and don't get much bigger than the ones you see in the photo. They're extremely sour but great for seasoning seafood, or anything you would use a lime for.

I highly recommend the online seller I bought it from. She contacted me immediately, shipped the item right away by Priority mail and gave me instructions on how to care for the plant:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pineapple Orange Sorbet

Since the weather's finally getting warmer, I sort of skipped spring and went straight for a summer dessert. I was going to try making an orange cake, but never got around to it. I still had all this fruit lying around, so I scoured the internet for what looked like the best sorbet recipe and stumbled across this one, on I LOVE freshly squeezed orange juice, so it was really difficult not to drink the 2 cups worth the recipe asks for. The final product was a little bit sweeter than I'd like it, but since it's hard to judge the tartness of your fruit, I'd recommend sticking with the recipe.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

King Crab for Two

My husband had the awesome idea of picking up $50 worth of giant King Crab legs at Costco this weekend. We ate half with his family on Saturday and the last 3 legs tonight. I'd actually never had them before. All I did was break them into segments, and marinate them in olive oil, white wine, garlic and a few dashes of hot sauce. These were parboiled when we got them, so I poured the whole marinade with the legs into a pot and steamed it for 6 minutes. Add a loaf of sourdough to dip in the juices and you have a mini feast.

"I Like to Eat" show

For those of you who don't know what a Labbit is, it's a vinyl DIY toy that usually comes in white, that you can then decorate to your liking. These happen to be by the artist Kevin Olson for his solo show "I Like to Eat." I really really want the pink Snowball labbit. These are all on sale, by the way. Read more about it through Toysrevil.