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Friday, August 30, 2013

Food Trends For Fall

Happy Friday all! It's finally here and the Labor Day weekend is upon us! Labor Day usually signifies back-to-school (for many), colorful leaves, and apple picking. In honor of what we've seen this year and what's to come here are a few sites that are ready to give their picks for the food trends of 2013. Have a good weekend!

Bon Appetit Restaurant Trends

Food & Wine Picks

Epicurious Trends of 2013

Cooking Light Food Trends of 2013

Forbes Picks from the Fancy Food Show

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Burgers, Salmon Style

Hello everyone! I'm back with another exciting recipe...this one is my easy peasy, all time favorite crowd pleasing summer (or fall, winter, or spring if you have an indoor grill) salmon recipe. Make these salmon sliders on mini buns or regular-sized hamburger buns (I'm in love with Angelic Bakehouse 7-grain buns from Whole Foods). So fast; so simple; so delicious. I substitute prosciutto for bacon for my hubby, but keep mine a "salmon only" zone. Either way they're awesome. Enjoy!

Grilled Glazed-Salmon Sandwiches with Bacon
Marcia Kiesel Food & Wine June 2010

For the salmon:
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup prepared horseradish, drained
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Four 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets
  • Vegetable oil, for rubbing
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sandwich:
  • 4 kaiser rolls—split, toasted and buttered
  • 4 red lettuce leaves
  • 8 thick bacon slices, cooked until crisp
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, cut into 12 thin slices
  1. Directions
For the salmon: 
  1. Light a grill. In a small bowl, mix the mustard, horseradish and honey. Rub the salmon with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the salmon over moderate heat, skinned side down, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Turn and grill for 3 minutes longer, until the salmon is almost cooked through. Turn the salmon again and spread each fillet with 1 tablespoon of the horseradish glaze. Turn and grill until glazed, about 30 seconds. Serve the remaining glaze on the side.
For the sandwich:
  1. Spread the remaining horseradish glaze from the Grilled Glazed Salmon on the rolls. Place a lettuce leaf, 2 crispy bacon strips and 3 slices of Granny Smith apple on each roll and set a salmon fillet on top. Close the sandwiches and serve.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pre-Labor Day Labor in the Kitchen

Hello again! If you read my earlier post about the delicious Mexican sweet potato and black bean potato salad, thanks! That's a great make-ahead tastes great warm or cold and would be an excellent Labor Day edition. If you're looking for Labor Day desserts, here ya go! A few exciting recipes that will wow your crowd (or special treat for you and your significant other).

If you have a blow torch handy...

Baked Alaska
Food Network Magazine

For the Ice Cream Cake:
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing
  • 1 pint raspberry, passion fruit or other sorbet, softened
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 1 quart chocolate ice cream, softened
  • 1 cup chocolate wafer crumbs (about 17 crushed wafers)
  • 1 loaf pound cake
For the Meringue:

  • 1 cup egg whites (about 6 large), at room temperature
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1 cup sugar
  1. Make the ice cream cake: Brush a 3-quart metal bowl with vegetable oil; line with plastic wrap. Fill the bowl with scoops of the sorbet, vanilla ice cream and half of the chocolate ice cream, alternating small and large scoops to create a mosaic of colors and shapes. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the ice cream; press down to close the gaps between scoops and even out the surface. Remove the plastic wrap, sprinkle the ice cream with the wafer crumbs and re-cover with the plastic wrap, pressing gently. Freeze until set, about 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the wrap and spread the remaining chocolate ice cream in an even layer on top of the crumbs. Cut the pound cake into 1/2-inch-thick slices; completely cover the ice cream with the slices, trimming as needed (you'll use about two-thirds of the cake). Cover with fresh plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
  3. Make the meringue: Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until foamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the sugar on high speed until the whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks.
  4. Remove the top layer of plastic wrap, then invert the cake onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. (If necessary, let the cake stand overturned until it slips out.) Remove the rest of the plastic wrap and cover the ice cream completely with the meringue, making the dome-shaped top slightly thicker than the sides. Form swirly peaks in the meringue using the back of a spoon. Freeze for at least 3 more hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Bake the cake until the meringue peaks are golden, about 4 minutes, or brown the meringue with a blowtorch. Let the cake soften at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. Freeze any leftovers.

For the gourmet lover...

Fig and Chocolate Bars
The Washington Post adapted from "Sweet!" by Mani Niall 

For the ganache

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the dough and topping
  • 1 cup flour, preferably unbleached and organic
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (do not use quick or instant oats)
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups finely chopped dried figs
For the ganache: 
  1. Heat the cream in a medium saucepan over low heat until it has warmed through. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate chips. Let stand for 3 minutes, until the chips have softened, then stir to incorporate.
  2. Add the liqueur and butter; stir until the butter has melted and a smooth ganache is formed. Let cool for about 20 minutes; it should have a pourable consistency.
While the ganache is cooling, make the dough and topping: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking oil spray, then line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add 2 cups of the oats and whisk to combine.
  3. Combine the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or a hand-held electric mixer. Beat on high speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low, then add the egg and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture in several additions, mixing just until the dough comes together; it should not be absolutely smooth.
  4. Transfer three-quarters of the dough to the prepared baking pan and press it evenly over the liner or parchment paper. Sprinkle the chopped figs on the dough, then pour the cooled ganache over the figs. Use a spatula to spread it evenly.
  5. Combine the remaining dough with the remaining 1 cup of oats in the same medium bowl used for the flour mixture. Use your fingers to work the oats into the dough to form a crumbly streusel topping. Scatter it evenly over the ganache.
  6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the topping is golden brown. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for at least 20 minutes, then use the parchment paper to lift the baked bar onto a cutting board. Let cool completely before cutting into 32 roughly square-shaped bars.

To get those lovely "ooohs" and "aaaaahs"...

Frozen Blackberry Souffle
Los Angeles Times July 15, 2009


  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup blackberry or raspberry liqueur
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 cups whipping cream


  1. Cut a sheet of waxed paper that is long enough to fit around a 1-quart soufflé dish and fold it in lengthwise thirds to make a ribbon about 4 inches wide. Wrap this around the top of the dish to make a collar and tape the ends together. The collar should extend about 3 inches above the rim of the soufflé dish. Secure in place with a rubber band or tape and place the dish in the freezer to chill. Alternatively, prepare 8 (one-half cup) ramekins in a similar fashion, making sure the collars extend about 1 1/2 inches over the rim of the ramekins.
  2. In a large saucepan, cook the blackberries and one-third cup sugar over medium heat until the berries soften and collapse, about 10 minutes. Puree the blackberries in a food mill, blender or food processor (strain the seeds if using a blender or processor); you should have about 2 cups. Stir in the blackberry liqueur and chill.
  3. Heat remaining two-thirds cup sugar and the water in a small saucepan over medium heat to a temperature of 235 to 240 degrees, soft-ball stage, about 15 minutes. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves, then stop stirring but keep handy a brush moistened with water to wash down the sides of the pan should any sugar crystals form.
  4. While the sugar mixture is cooking, beat the egg whites in an electric mixer to stiff peaks using the whisk attachment. With the mixer running, pour the sugar mixture into the egg whites down the side of the bowl in a slow, steady stream (avoid hitting the whisk with the sugar or it will spray over the bowl). When the hot sugar syrup first hits the whites, they will swell tremendously. Continue beating until the whites have cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the whipping cream to soft peaks with a whisk or hand mixer.
  6. Stir about one-third of the egg white mixture into the blackberry puree to lighten it. Then pour the blackberry mixture over the remaining egg whites and fold gently until well combined. These cooked egg whites are more stable than uncooked, but you still need to be careful not to deflate them.
  7. Gently fold the whipping cream into the egg white mixture and spoon the mixture into the prepared soufflé dish or ramekins. It should come at least halfway up the paper collar. Smooth the top and freeze until very firm, at least 4 hours. If you freeze it overnight, transfer it to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to soften before serving. If you make it more than 1 day in advance, once the mixture is frozen solid, cover it with plastic wrap and gently press the wrap against the surface of the soufflé.
  8. When ready to serve, carefully remove the collar and serve the ramekins or cut the large soufflé into thin slices.
Note: If the sugar crystallizes while cooking in step 3, try the step again in a clean saucepan and add one-fourth teaspoon corn syrup before cooking the sugar, but proceed with the rest of the step as written.

Happy baking!

Not Your Mayonnaise-y Potato Salad

Hello everyone! I didn't get to write up my savory post last night, but fear not for I have it today (and hopefully another one later today as well). Today I want to give you a new way of thinking about potato salad. This is one of my favorite recipes from a cookbook dedicated to a variety of salads, and it gives you protein, spice, and sweet potatoes all in one heaping spoonful. Enjoy!

Mexican Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad
Raising the Salad Bar Catherine Walthers


  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 in chunks
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Kernels from 3-4 ears of fresh corn, or 2 cups frozen kernels
  • 2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained (canned is fine)
  • 3 or 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Chipotle-Chile Dressing
  • 1 chipotle chile (from a can of chipotles in adobo)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 T Thai sweet chile sauce (such as Maesri brand)
  • 6 T fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup canola oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 375. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato chunks with the oil to lightly coat them. Sprinkle with coriander, cumin, chile powder, and salt and toss again.Spread the potatoes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until they are golden at the edges and just tender, about 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile, microwave the corn in a small amount of water for 3-5 minutes, or steam for 3-4 minutes. Drain excess water. In a large serving bowl, combine the corn and black beans. 
  2. To make the dressing, in a blender or food processor, place the first 3 ingredients and process until mixture is smooth. Add the lime juice and process again. With the machine running, slowly add the canola oil and process dressing until it is emulsified.
  3. When the sweet potatoes are done, let cool slightly and add them to corn and beans. Add scallions and cilantro; toss gently. Pour enough dressing over salad to just moisten the ingredients and toss again. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pour in the Chocolate Chips!

Happy Monday everyone! It's a gloomy day in Weehawken...the sun is attempting to peek out (and failing). What do we do on a blah kind of day? We bake of course; chocolate chip cookies to be exact. Here are a few recipes that are some of the best as far as chocolate chips are concerned...enjoy!

The gourmet...

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Sarah Copeland; The Newlywed Cookbook


  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt
  • 16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 9 oz. bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped


  1. Heat oven to 375°. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Combine butter, both sugars, and vanilla in a large bowl; beat on medium-high speed with a hand mixer until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolks two at a time, beating after each addition; add dry ingredients; beat on low speed until just combined. Transfer dough to a work surface; divide into 3 equal pieces. Flatten each into a 4″ x 6″ rectangle; wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Place one dough rectangle on a floured work surface; sprinkle with half the chocolate. Top with another rectangle, sprinkle with remaining chocolate, and cover with last rectangle. Using a floured rolling pin, flatten rectangles into a 9″ x 6″ x 1 ½″ rectangle. Using a 2″ round cutter, cut out cookies; transfer to parchment paper—lined baking sheets, spaced 3″ apart. Gather scraps, reroll into a 1 ½″-thick disk; cut out more cookies. Bake, rotating baking sheets halfway through cooking, until lightly browned and set, about 15 minutes.

For the salty sweet tooth...

Salty Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Alison Roman


  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted
  • butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (packed) light brown
  • sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces semisweet or
  • bittersweet chocolate (do not
  • exceed 72% cacao), coarsely
  • chopped
  • Maldon or other flaky sea salt

  1. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 375°. Whisk flour, baking powder, kosher salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, sugar, and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add egg yolks, egg, and vanilla. Beat, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, until mixture is pale and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low; slowly add dry ingredients, mixing just to blend. Using a spatula, fold in chocolate.
  3. Spoon rounded tablespoonfuls of cookie dough onto 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing 1-inch apart. Sprinkle cookies with sea salt.
  4. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until just golden brown around the edges, 10-12 minutes (the cookies will firm up as they cool). Let cool slightly on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks; let cool completely.
DO AHEAD: Cookies can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

From one of the best chefs in the world...

Thomas Keller's Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Thomas Keller


  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup 72 percent chocolate chunks
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the butter on low for 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl again.
  2. Add sugar and continue to beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape bowl. Beat again for 2 minutes. Scrape bowl and beat for another 2 minutes. Scrape bowl again.
  3. Slowly stream in eggs, one at a time, while mixer is on low speed. Once all eggs are incorporated, whip on medium speed for 2 minutes, scrape halfway through, and scrape when done.
  4. Add dry ingredients on low speed, scrape halfway, and scrape when all the dry ingredients have been added.
  5. Add chocolate and scrape again.
  6. Scoop onto a lined baking sheet.
  7. Bake at 325 for approximately 18 minutes if using a No. 10 scoop (check after 15 minutes).

Happy baking!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Windy in Wellfleet or Proud in Provincetown?

It's Friday and this will be my last post from the great Cod that we call the Cape. I'll be back on Monday with more delicious recipes and tips. If you liked my adventures this week, thanks for tagging along! If you didn't...thanks for bearing with me for a week. Anyhoo, yesterday's adventures brought us to Wellfleet since it was the annual Carnival in Provincetown and the crowds were everywhere! We headed down to Wellfleet by car (our initial idea of biking was nixed after a morning of tennis in the hot sun) and off we went to our favorite rooftop by the bay - Pearl. It's a great inside/outside restaurant next to Mac's on the Pier, and serves portions 3x the size of Mac's! Thinking of eating light (though we had beers and later ice cream...but I said thinking so don't judge), I had a fun summer salad, little baby spinach sprinkled with walnuts and feta and surrounded by a flower-like display of strawberry slices. I asked for grilled salmon and was delightfully surprised to see it topped with enough fish to feed 3 people! Alex's lobster roll was a traditional hot dog bun stuffed to the gills with huge ruby red chunks of fresh lobster meat! Yum yum!

Now let's talk fish...we had a grilled feast for dinner last night after our Wellfleet excursion. Using white and purple eggplant, fresh corn on the cob, and zucchini coins (again I know, but we just love zucchini in the summer!), I lightly seasoned the eggplant and zucchini and grilled on both sides until dark char marks made pretty designs on the veggies. The corn was par boiled for 20 minutes in a few inches of water, wrapped in foil with a tiny bit of butter/olive oil spread (usually I use spray butter) and grilled until golden. We cooked thick pieces of swordfish on a sadly slowly dwindling charcoal grill, along with toro, and a few shrimp skewers. Though it took awhile, it was worth the effort! Dessert, which as you know is of extreme importance, was ice cream from Sweet Escape, on of our go-to local places with a looooong list of interesting flavors and more of that blueberry pie from Wellfleet (it is vacation, after all). Took a 7 mile bike ride around the Provincetown beach trails to work some of that off, but it was well worth it! Happy summer! See you Monday.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lots of Exercise = Lots of Food Adventures!

Sandwiches at Jams
Yesterday was such a busy day, I fell asleep before I could post pictures of all the local eats! Wednesday morning found my husband and I in a kayak, paddling around Gull Pond. (We won't mention the fact that I jumped in, scared myself into thinking there was something lurking below, and frantically trying to pour myself back into the boat). After kayaking we hopped on our bikes and headed back to Jams Grocery, but this time for freshly made sandwiches for a trip to the beach. Well, we didn't make it to the beach. Surrounded by picnic benches and wooden lounge chairs, it was too picturesque to just leave (and we'd just rode 2 1/2 miles to get there). With a tall, refreshing glass of hibiscus iced tea, we chose a lovely quiet table shaded by a big umbrella, and dived into our sandwiches - mine a caprese panini (with fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil on whole wheat) and Alex a pastrami on a sourdough roll. We shared a brownie (not a Lizzy Bee's brownie, but delicious in its own way: oddly cakey and crumbly yet slightly dense, filled with rich chocolate chunks).

Why hello there...
After riding back from our lunch excursion, we headed to a relaxing afternoon on the beach...the main event was yet to come! That night, we had one of my favorite Cape Cod traditions: the clam bake! Lobsters, oysters, clams, fresh corn, oh my! With the help of my husband (who am I kidding, I sat at a safe 2-chair distance and watched) my lobster was opened and I was able to dunk, dip, and slurp happily like the rest of the table. Dinner led to dessert, which my father so thoughtfully brought back from town. A homemade blueberry pie from Wellfleet and vanilla ice cream from Emack & Bolio. I may be coming home 10 pounds heavier at this rate...

Ice cream and blueberry pie

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Day of Eating in Provincetown, Mass

Happy Tuesday everyone! Last night's dinner was at the Wicked Oyster, a fairly good (if not a bit quirky) restaurant in Wellfleet. Everyone forgives the forgetful hostess who has been there forever and is hit or miss in the pleasantries. Luckily the food was good, the drinks were cheap, and our server was a delight!  

Clam strips!
Today's adventures brought me and my husband on a 5-6 mile bike ride, followed by a trip drinking and eating our way through Provincetown. Though the Carnival is on Thursday, along with big crowds and long lines, we ventured out to town to see if we could hit our favorite food spots. After a delicious smoothie at 141 Market, my favorite place for all natural and quality ingredients, we headed down to the shops (all surprisingly empty for almost noon) and over to a quiet beer garden hidden down the road. Feeling somewhat renewed after imbibing, we headed down the other end of Commercial Street (a main stretch of Provincetown) over to Governor Bradford, my absolute favorite for clam strips!
You may not know this about me, but I'm an absolute sucker for a good clam strip. I dream of them all summer, knowing I'll be able to visit Governor Bradford in August. They are battered and always crisp, accompanied by tartar sauce and my own healthy serving of ketchup. That, along with a handful of my husband's sweet potato fries (also really delicious...I love my French fries sweet, crispy, and well-seasoned) it was the perfect meal. And while I may have told my husband I've officially had enough clam strips after my appetizer-sized portion, if I'm being honest I will most likely be ready for round two tomorrow. Sigh. Dreamy.

After a delightfully filling lunch of fried delights, we decided to keep moving. We were on a mission for coffee at Wired Puppy. The name alone makes me love it...not to mention their deep dark chocolate espresso beans. Distracting my hubby from another round of ice cream (there's a place I must "re-try" but I need to pace myself here), we split a bag of crunchy beans and continued our journey to more shops and adventures. We scoped out the scene for a restaurant we were tipped off about by a local then headed back down to the opposite end of commercial street for a drink at Aqua Bar. This place sits very casually along the water, with views of gently swaying little sailboats and a man playing in the water with his three dogs (including a very active 3-legged Boston terrier mix...the breed of my own love muffin puppers). It sits at the end of a food hall, where people bring their foods from their travels along Commercial Street to eat, drink, and enjoy the view. We sat there for a bit, enjoying the 3-legged fuzzball, then called my parents to bring our own little ball of fluff and their happy golden down to the huuuuge dog park for a romp in the pebbles and sand. All dogs tired and tuckered out, we came back to the house to relax before a delicious raw meal (another Cape Cod tradition) at a very busy restaurant...we hope. Check back with me tomorrow for more adventures and intrigue!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Cape Cod Relaxing!

Shrimp skewers: lemon zest, salt, and pepper
2 min/side
Summer vacation is finally here for me and my husband and we're celebrating our honeymoon (**cough cough one year and one month late cough cough**) in beautiful Cape Cod. I'm hoping to bring you some of the interesting tastes in the Cape. Clam strips and lobster rolls oh my! But for now, let's start closer to home. For lunch today I was tasked with making a delicious grill. Delicately backing out of the driveway in a borrowed car (my mother's SUV is rather larger than my own), my husband and I somewhat blindly made our way to the local grocery store and Mac's fish market. Choosing from the display, we picked a delicious piece of yellowfin tuna and giant shrimps. We found some of the ingredients for veggie skewers in the grocery store, but as always, I wanted something I couldn't find - walnuts and a green vegetable. So onward we drove, navigating down route 6 towards Wellfleet, with the promise of more produce markets and possibilities. Though we turned off too early, I managed to navigate our trusty ship down to the center of town, using only instinct (which usually does not serve me well) and a dream. After a long, twisty ride and 2 wrong turns, we made it to the market. Again walnuts were lacking, but lucky for me I found something even better - figs! My fave! I also found fresh zucchini which, if you've seen my other posts with pictures, is my go-to green for the summer. As a thank you to my husband (though if I'm being honest, it's really for myself) we split a homemade farmer's market oatmeal raisin cookie...big old-fashioned oats, raisins, and deliciousness.
Veggie skewers: a few min per side until
tomatoes just start to burst and other
veggies are browning/black

Bringing our bounty back to the car, we headed off to the house again, back roads and all, twisting and turning (and U-turning once more) to our quiet house where my parents and dogs waited patiently. After much prep work and about 20 minutes of my dad and Alex trying to work the charcoal grill (who needs to read directions?), my food was finally cooking away! Lots of quick-cooking skewers of peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, and onions (cool grill!), the big shrimp tossed in olive oil and lemon zest (grated on a cheese grater, as there was no microplane to be found), thick tuna steak lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, pre-made calamari salad (they sell something similar at Whole Foods...but not as good!), and quickly grilled zucchini rounds. Let's also not forget an easy quinoa salad: Cook quinoa as per package instructions. Mix in a lemon dressing (1/3 C extra virgin olive oil; zest of one lemon; 3 T lemon juice; salt and pepper - whisk until mixed), figs, parmesan cheese, basil and parsley.

What started as a light lunch turned into an extravagant (but healthy!!) feast! Delish!
Premade calamari salad

Yellowfin tuna: 4 min on the first side
3 min on second side
Check if done: does it cut easily?

Zucchini rounds: on a charcoal grill, no special grill pan necessary!
Just use grill liners (my fave grill accessory)
Toss in olive oil; spread on grill; turn when dark

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Take a Trip Down Dim Sum Lane

Gorgeous eggplant
Happy Thursday! Last night I had a little fun with Asian-inspired dishes. When I was looking through my books for what to cook, I was drawn to the dim sum section of a Tyler Florence book. I'd always wanted to try my own shumai and I was surprised to see I already had many of the ingredients! Wanting to make a more well-rounded meal, I added a green veggie, and spicy eggplant (gorgeous local eggplant is on sale in all different shapes and sizes at Whole Foods right now!). This also gave me the chance to test out my bamboo steamer that I received as a wedding present last year. Here we go!

Szechwan Eggplant Stir-Fry
Tyler Florence and JoAnn Cianciulli


  • 5 Asian eggplants, about 2 pounds 
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 green onions, white and green parts, sliced on a diagonal
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 fresh red chile, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
  • Thai holy basil and fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
Spicy eggplant
  1. Cut the eggplants in 1/2 lengthwise and then slice crosswise into wedges, no more than 1-inch wide.
  2. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high flame and add the oils; tilt the pan to coat all sides. When you see a slight smoke, add a layer of eggplant, stir-fry until seared and sticky, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the eggplant to a side platter and cook the remaining eggplant in same manner, adding more oil, if needed.
  3. After all the eggplant is out of the pan, add the green onions, ginger, garlic, and chile; stir-fry for a minute until fragrant. Add the broth. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and cornstarch until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. Pour the soy sauce mixture into the wok and cook another minute, until the sauce has thickened. Put the eggplant back in the pan, tossing quickly, until the sauce is absorbed. Garnish with sesame seeds, Thai basil, and cilantro and serve.

Shrimp and Ginger Siu Mai Dumplings
Tyler Florence

For the Shrimp Filling:

Before siu mai were cooked...

  • 1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/2 pound ground pork (I substituted all shrimp since I don't eat pork)
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce, plus some for dipping
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Wrappers:
  • 1 (10-ounce) package round wonton wrappers
  • Canola oil, for brushing the steamer
  • Savoy cabbage, for lining the steamer, optional
  • Into the steamer!
  • Micro Arugula, for garnish
Special equipment: wok, bamboo steamer

  1. To make the shrimp filling: Pulse all the ingredients

    in a food processor until partly smooth but not completely pureed. It should have a little texture. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. To assemble dumplings: Hold a wonton wrapper in your hand. Dip a spoon in cold water and then drop 1 tablespoon of the filling onto the center of a wrapper (dipping the spoon in cold water first will make the filling come off easier). Gather the edges of the wrapper up around the filling and squeeze the sides slightly with your fingers. The sides will naturally pleat, leaving the filling slightly exposed. Tap the dumpling on the table so the bottom is flat and it stands upright. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling. (You can freeze the leftover filling for 2 or 3 weeks.)
  3. Open steamer!
  4. Lightly oil the bottom of a 10-inch bamboo steamer and line it with the whole cabbage leaves. Stand the dumplings in the steamer in a single layer and don't let them touch. You should be able to get 12 siu mai in the steamer at a time. Bring 1 to 2 inches of water to a boil in a pot. Set the bamboo steamer over the pot, then cover it with the bamboo lid. Steam for 10 to 12 minutes or until the filling feels firm and is cooked through. Serve in the steamer basket and garnish with micro arugula and soy sauce.

Ta da!

Finish Your Cake with Curls

Hello everyone! The summer is mixing up all of my days because I forgot to post my tip of the day yesterday! So TODAY we'll talk about making chocolate curls to decorate the top of a cake. I've brought you the 2 schools of thought on the subject - melt and refirm vs. soften and curl. Have some fun - test them both out and tell me your favorite!

Ghirardelli's Chocolate Curl Theory
  1. To make any of the following curls, use a 4-ounce bar of Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet, 60% Cacao Bittersweet, or Milk Chocolate.
  2. For large curls, melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Turn a baking sheet upside down. Using a plastic spatula, spread the melted chocolate evenly over the baking sheet. (The chocolate should be the thickness of a butter-knife blade.) Refrigerate 10 minutes, or until the chocolate is firm but not brittle. Hold a metal spatula upside down and press firmly into the chocolate, then push steadily ahead until a curl forms. With a toothpick or a small skewer, carefully lift the curls and place them on the dessert, or store them on a plate in the refrigerator until needed.
  3. For small curls, let the chocolate bar stand in a warm place (80º to 85ºF) until thoroughly warm but not melted. Using a vegetable peeler, make curls by drawing the peeler along the thin, flat side of the bar. Remove the curls with a toothpick and place them on the dessert, or store them on a plate in the refrigerator until needed.
  4. To make shavings, proceed as directed for small curls but use a short stroke when peeling. For a more splintered effect, use cool rather than warmed chocolate. Both shavings and splinter curls work best when made directly over the dessert being decorated. (Practice first over a plate to be sure it’s working properly.)

Williams Sonoma Chocolate Curl Theory
Chocolate Curls
Slightly soften a 3 to 4-inch chunk of chocolate in the microwave on medium (50% power). Using a vegetable peeler, scrape the blade lengthwise across the softened chocolate to create pretty, delicate curls. Refrigerate the curls until ready to use.

Chocolate Shavings
Use a vegetable peeler or knife to shave flat, thin shavings from a room-temperature block of chocolate.

Happy baking!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Salmon and Stone Fruit

Happy Wednesday! I forgot to post my savory dish last night, so I'm doing it today! It was too wet to grill outside last night, so I made kebabs on my reversible grill (a really great investment). These are served with cherry and nectarine bruschetta, delicate French bread generously spread with fresh ricotta and covered in macerated fruit. Enjoy!

Spiced Salmon Kebabs

Alison Roman


  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillet (preferably wild), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 lemons, very thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  1. Prepare grill for medium heat. Mix oregano, sesame seeds, cumin, salt, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl to combine; set spice mixture aside.
  2. Beginning and ending with salmon, thread salmon and folded lemon slices onto 8 pairs of parallel skewers to make 8 kebabs total. Brush with oil and season with reserved spice mixture.
  3. Grill, turning occasionally, until fish is opaque throughout, 5–8 minutes.

Cherry and Plum Bruschetta
Alison Roman

  • 2 red plums or nectarines, halved, pitted, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cherries, pitted, halved
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
  • 1/4 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta
  • 1/2 baguette, sliced 1/2-inch thick, toasted
  1. Combine plums, cherries, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon oil, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean (reserve pod for another use) or add vanilla extract; toss to combine. Let macerate just until fruit begins to release juices, 10–15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk ricotta and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a medium bowl until smooth.
  3. Drizzle toast with oil, spread with ricotta mixture, and top with fruit. Drizzle with more oil, if desired, and juices from bowl. Sprinkle with salt.

Monday, August 12, 2013

No Shortage of Shortbread!

Happy Monday everyone! This weekend, in honor of a visit from my dad, I made vanilla bean shortbread. With this recipe, there's a few additions, changes, tweaks, but most importantly, paying attention in the oven. I started out with a recipe from Ms. Ina Garten and played around from there. Enjoy!

After the dough is made, refrigerate for an hour.

Roll out the dough and use a cutter of choice to make shapes.

While some cookie sheets go in the oven,
leave the others in the fridge so they stay firm.
Into the oven they go!

Fresh from the oven. 

Dip into chocolate; put in the fridge for about 30 min to harden.

Shortbread Cookies
Ina Garten, 2008

  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I also scraped in the inside of a vanilla bean)
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 to 7 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3 by 1-inch finger-shaped cutter. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. When the cookies are cool, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put 3 ounces of the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. (Don't trust your microwave timer; time it with your watch.) Stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second increments until the chocolate is just melted. Add the remaining chocolate and allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it's completely smooth. Stir vigorously until the chocolate is smooth and slightly cooled; stirring makes it glossier. **I used the double boiler method - it gives you much better results than a microwave. Remember, put a glass bowl on a tiny amount of simmering water. Fill with chocolate and let melt. 
  5. Drizzle 1/2 of each cookie with just enough chocolate to coat it.
  6. Tada!
Lizzy Bee's Note: Be sure to watch the cookies while they bake. They don't necessarily take 25 minutes, or even 20. Depending on your thickness, they make get darker or lighter. 

Happy baking!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

What do YOU want to learn?

It's the weekend! Now I know I don't usually post on the weekends, but I gotta ask: what do YOU want to learn about? Let me teach, demonstrate, explain whatever you want to know about baking! Leave your comments here and I'll be happy to get started!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Back to School...ALREADY?!

Happy Friday! Though the weather is funny over here in the Manhattan area, it won't stop us from doing what we love (...baking!). If the new Target and JC Penney commercials haven't given it away, it's back-to-school time for many kiddies! Now if it were up to me, I'd have all kids go back after Labor Day - who can really concentrate when it's hot and sunny out anyway? But since it's not up to me, we'll just have to get into school mode and bake, bake, bake! Today I'm giving you a few yummy snack bar recipes to add some fun to your cool kid's lunch box. Remember we're baking for kids here, so portion these small! If your child has a well-balanced meal and knows how to eat it - main meal/protein, fruits/veggies, milk, snack - they'll be prepared to enter that cafeteria with pride!

Just remember, be sensitive when baking for school. We live in a world of crazy allergies and we need to protect our children and their friends! Nuts, peanut butter...they're generally not allowed in schools. Try substituting nuts with a Kashi crunchy cereal or granola - it actually tastes pretty great! Sometimes you can even omit the nuts if you're not sure. Just be sure you're not omitting the yummy crunch!

One of my faves for the back-to-school crowd (you may have seen this from me before)...

Back-to-School Raspberry Granola Bars
Karen DeMasco for Food & Wine

  • 1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup raspberry preserves
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Spread the chopped pecans in a pie plate and toast for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the rolled oats, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking soda and pecans. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the melted butter until the oat mixture is thoroughly combined.
  3. Press two-thirds of the oat mixture in an even layer on the bottom of the prepared baking pan and top with the raspberry preserves. Sprinkle the preserves with the remaining oat mixture.
  4. Bake the bars for about 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until the top is golden brown. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the granola bars cool completely, about 3 hours. Cut into squares and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The bars can be kept in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Sticky, gooey, and surprisingly low fat...

S'more Bites
Self, Marge Perry, July 2013

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 bag (10 ounce) marshmallows
  • 6 cups rice-crisp cereal
  • 1 cup melted semisweet chocolate chips
  • 7 1/2 rectangular graham crackers (or 15 squares)
  • 1 cup marshmallow crème (such as Fluff)
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in marshmallows and cook, stirring, until smooth, 2 minutes; remove from heat. 
  2. In a bowl, combine marshmallows with cereal; mix well. In the bottom of a 9" x 13" pan, spread half of cereal mixture into a thin, even layer. Top with warmed chocolate. 
  3. Place graham crackers in a single layer over chocolate, breaking crackers as needed to fit; top with crème. Spread remaining half of cereal mixture over crème; press lightly to cement layers together. 
  4. Let s'mores sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

For the healthier eaters...

Cranberry Oat Bars
Gourmet, November 2005

  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans (6 ounces), chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups dried cranberries, chopped
  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. Toast oats in another baking pan, stirring occasionally, until pale golden, about 12 minutes.
  3. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs, milk, and vanilla. Whisk together flour, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda, then beat into butter mixture until incorporated. Stir in oats, pecans, and cranberries. Spread in buttered pan.
  4. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then cut into bars.

For the purist...

Homemade Granola Bars
Barefoot Contessa, 2008

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.
  2. Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
  4. Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.

Happy baking!